Route 1 in Falmouth back to (a new) normal

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FALMOUTH — After 16 months of construction and more than $12 million spent, the much-anticipated U.S. Route 1 infrastructure project is all but finished.

Public Works Director Jay Reynolds said major construction on the mile-long stretch of road wrapped up Monday, Aug. 24. Reynolds said some landscaping work would begin again in about two weeks, when temperatures will hopefully have cooled down.

Reynolds said the project came in under budget.

The original price tag was $12.3 million, with $11.7 million coming from a voter-approved bond and the remaining $600,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation.

“We’ve been trending being under somewhere (between) $80,00 and $130,000, roughly,” Reynolds said.

Major work included burying most utility lines, repaving the road, creating new turning lanes and islands, installing new roadway and pedestrian lighting systems, and landscaping.

In addition to the landscape work beginning the week of Sept. 7, Reynolds also said there is some final work to be done on some crosswalks. He said audio push-buttons for the visually impaired will be installed to assist crossings at Clearwater Drive, and Depot and Bucknam roads.

Other finishing touches will include final road striping, paving of some driveway aprons, and cobblestone work on some of the islands at business entrances. He said work on the grass esplanades will also occur in early September.

“There is work to be done to the grass to better improve the quality of these areas, which will include weeding and re-seeding many areas,” he said.

Reynolds said there will also be some new shade trees planted along Route 1 next spring. Earlier this summer several new trees died, likely due to insufficient watering. Town Manager Nathan Poore previously said it was the first problem in the project, which otherwise had gone smoothly.

“It looks nice now and hopefully others feel the same,” Reynolds said. “We’ve gotten some positive feedback from businesses, bicyclists, so I think it’s turning more positive now that construction is winding down. People are definitely seeing the benefits of all the work that went into it.”

The project did not have any major weather delays; the original completion date for paving was estimated to be mid-September.

Even though there was major construction for more than a year, some business owners said they never really saw any negative effects from the project.

Shawn Brannigan, general manager of the Allen, Sterling & Lothrop garden and wholesale supply company at 191 U.S. Route 1, credited how well the crews directed traffic.

“There was a couple days where they tied traffic up, but mostly … it flowed really well,” Brannigan said.

Brannigan added the finished product looks good, and he thinks it will bring more people into the now-“more attractive” area for shopping and other needs.

Lamey Wellehan, the shoe retailer at 251 U.S. Route 1, also didn’t experience a noticeable decline in customers because of the construction. Sales associate Zachariah Cribbin said customers would occasionally talk about the traffic, but it didn’t stop them from shopping.

“If you’re going to go somewhere, you’ll go regardless (of construction),” Cribbin said.

Peter Leavitt, of the Leavitt & Sons Deli at 37 Depot Road, said by and large the construction wasn’t too disruptive. He said the contractors did a great job, given the size of the project.

“I know other businesses had more disruptions than I did, but aside from a few days and weeks in the early summer, it hasn’t had that much impact on my business, as far as I can tell,” Leavitt said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Fine Line Paving & Grading workers Austin Ferland, left, James Clark and Michael Plourde apply finishing touches Tuesday, Aug. 25, to a sidewalk along U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or