Signs are up along Route 3 in Bar Harbor advising motorists that construction will soon begin on rebuilding that busy road from Ireson Hill into downtown. ISLANDER PHOTO BY EARL BRECHLIN

Route 3 work begins

BAR HARBOR – Work on the reconstruction of a 4.8-mile section of Route 3 between Pirate’s Cove miniature golf course and downtown is scheduled to begin Jan. 9, Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) officials told residents at an open house meeting this week.

The contract for the $17.9 million, two-and-a-half-year job was awarded to Sargent Corporation, whose New England operations are based in Stillwater.

First up, Scott Blanchard of Sargent said Wednesday night, will be tree clearing. Beginning at the north end of the project, clearing will proceed the length of the reconstruction “at about a half-mile a week,” he said.

DOT has set a hard deadline of June 2019 for completion of the project, but they hope to have the highway completed well before then. Work will be done Monday-Friday, with some Saturdays as needed but no Sundays. No overnight work is allowed except paving. Contractor shutdowns are planned for the week of July 4 and the week of Labor Day.

Detailed construction schedules will be available on the DOT’s project website; anyone interested may also sign up to receive updates via email.

A temporary traffic light will be installed at the intersection of the Crooked Road and Route 3 and another, permanent one is planned for the intersection of Eden Street and the Eagle Lake Road. Upgrades to the intersection in Somesville are also underway this spring, as increased traffic there is expected. Plans call for additional turning lanes to reduce the backlog of traffic at the light.

The contract for Route 3 includes water and sewer upgrades, which are paid for by the town. DOT required that the project be rolled into a single contract.

“That way one contractor is in charge of the schedule and all of the work,” DOT Assistant Program Manager Steve Bodge said.

The water system work is $1.8 million of the contract, town Public Works Director Chip Reeves said. Voters approved a bond issue for that amount in 2015 to repair and replace mains, connecting services, hydrants and valves. That work will begin in April on the northern section of the project.

Sewer work, including replacing manhole covers, is about $230,000.

Utility poles will also be moved and upgraded along the same section of road, but that work is being handled by utility companies and is not part of Sargent’s contract.

DOT repaved much of the Eagle Lake Road this past summer, in anticipation of increased traffic there while the Route 3 work is underway. (See story on detour plans.)

One resident asked at the meeting why the repaving did not extend all the way to Mount Desert Island High School. Officials said they would consider additional paving next year.

DOT engineers have also said they will collect detailed data on the road conditions on the Eagle Lake Road before the project begins in order to assess and repair any damage it sustains during the two-and-a-half-year Route 3 project.

No detours yet

Traffic patterns will change during work on Route 3, but not for a few more months.

Detours will be set up with temporary traffic lights during construction on Route 3, beginning sometime in April, creating one-way loops. During the first, northern half of the project, traffic will enter Bar Harbor on Route 3 and depart via the Crooked Road.

During the second phase, traffic will come into Bar Harbor on Route 3 and depart via the Paradise Hill road in Acadia National Park. Only one of these two detours will be in effect at a time, and the detours will be mandatory.

Once one of the detour loops is in place, it will remain in effect until the end of that phase of the project, even during days or periods when no work is happening.

Trucks and large commercial traffic will be asked to take a posted alternate route to and from Bar Harbor, through Somesville via the Eagle Lake Road for both directions.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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