Main Street project cost drops $722K



MOUNT DESERT By burying utility lines on only one side of Main Street in Northeast Harbor, the town will save about $844,000 on the downtown improvement project.

But the addition of some drainage and sewer work will add $97,000 to the cost. Overall, the project will cost $722,631 less than originally planned, reducing the total to $3.24 million.

The Board of Selectmen approved that amount Monday night as part of a new agreement with the general contractor, R.F. Jordan & Sons Construction of Ellsworth.

Work is expected to start in early to mid April and continue until just before Memorial Day before pausing for the summer. That work will be done on the north end of Main Street, between Main Street Variety and the town parking lot at the Summit Road intersection.

The Main Street improvement project will resume next fall, starting at the south end of the street. The entire project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020.

Work on the project will be coordinated with the Mount Desert Water District’s replacement of the water main beneath Main Street.

The town’s portion of the project includes burying electric, telephone and internet lines on the west side of the street, stringing overhead lines on new poles on the east side, building a sidewalk on the east side, widening the sidewalk on the west side, repaving the street, improving drainage and re-engineering the intersection at the north end of the street.

The original plan, approved by voters at the May 2018 town meeting, drew criticism from some downtown business owners and others who said it would cause too much disruption and be too expensive. At a special town meeting Sept. 10, 2018, residents voted 97-45 to direct the selectmen to consider major changes in the Main Street plan.

Two months later, Public Works Director Tony Smith proposed three options for reducing the cost, including burying the utility lines on only the west side of the street. He recommended that option, which was approved by the selectmen Oct. 15, 2018.

Since then, Smith and R.F. Jordan, along with the electric, telephone and internet companies involved, have been working out details and new costs for the revised plan.

Smith noted in a March 15 memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt that the project’s engineers and the utility companies had estimated last fall that the revised plan could save the town about $1 million. He said he is happy that the actual estimated savings from burying the utilities on only one side of the street are $843,811.

“I would have been pleased with 75 percent of the [$1 million] estimate of savings,” he said. “Instead, we realized 84 percent.”

Smith told the selectmen Monday night that the bulk of the savings were due to R.F. Jordan’s cost reductions and that the town will actually be paying more to have Emera Maine string overhead power lines on the east side of Main Street instead of burying them.

“I think the guy who put together the original underground estimate dropped the ball; I think he really blew it,” Smith said. “When we got the overhead estimate … the electric went from $650,000 underground to $725,000 overhead.”

Smith said the storm drain and sanitary sewer work he recommended adding to the project at a cost of $97,000 includes about 635 feet of new pipe and 10 new catch basins and manholes on the north end of Main Street and a short distance up Summit Road.

He told the selectmen that the existing storm drain and sewer infrastructure in that area is very old.

“It’s inadequate going up Summit Road,” he said. “There are places where the pipe goes from eight inches to 10 inches, catch basins that are homemade … and without a sump.”

He said in his memo to Lunt that it makes sense to replace that infrastructure now “so we won’t have to dig through the new roadway for a number of years.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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