BAR HARBOR — The Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) is set to put the planned rebuild of four miles of Route 3 out to bid in October of this year, officials said at an open house meeting last week. They hope to award the contract by Thanksgiving.
The project, rebuilding the state highway between Ireson Hill near Pirate’s Cove mini golf and Mount Desert Street downtown, is budgeted at $18 million. The annual average traffic count for the affected stretch of highway is as high as 10,000 vehicles a day.
The DOT has set a hard deadline of June 2019 for completion of the project, but they hope to have the work completed well before then.
“You could see clearing and digging happening late this fall,” Project Manager Rhobe Moulton said. Utility work to be done ahead of the project is set to begin soon.
If a mild winter allows work to be done through some of the colder months, Moulton said, “it’s conceivable that the first phase (Ireson Hill to the Hull’s Cove store) could be done by this time next year.”
Detours will be set up with temporary traffic lights during construction on Route 3, beginning sometime before May of 2017, 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 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. Trucks and large commercial traffic will be routed through Somesville via the Eagle Lake Road for both directions.
Night work will be limited to paving, because paving moves relatively quickly and won’t occur in front of any one home or business for more than a few minutes, Moulton said.
Some business owners expressed concern about disruption from the project, while others praised the department’s efforts to provide information and gather feedback.
Some of the stone pillars engraved with names of historic “cottages” along the Eden Street section will be set a few feet back, Moulton said. The Maine Historic Preservation Commission has reviewed the plans.
The new median between the road and the sidewalk will not be wide enough to accommodate tree planting, but landscaping plans are forthcoming to replace tree canopy lost in the road and power line projects.
“The context sensitive solutions design was a two-year process,” Public Works Director Chip Reeves said. The CSS team included affected property owners, town officials and representatives of the business community, College of the Atlantic and Acadia National Park. “Now, the elements are in place. Let’s get together and figure this is how we’re planning to build it.”
Moulton said the DOT plans an informational website, weekly email updates and other efforts to keep the community informed as the project progresses.