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Maine DOT work plan features number of County projects

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation has released its 2020 edition of a three-year work plan that features a number of large projects for Aroostook County.

 

This Work Plan includes all capital projects and programs, maintenance and operations activities, planning initiatives and administrative functions for calendar years 2020, 2021 and 2022. It includes 2,051 individual work items with a total estimated value of $2.59 billion.

This Work Plan largely consists of spreading what used to be two years of capital projects over three years to stay within funding and cost constraints. Due to cost increases arising from workforce challenges, work constraints and other factors, making old projects whole at the beginning of this Work Plan process has required an extraordinary amount of funding. 

“This fiscal challenge required us to prioritize even more and rely on less-reliable bond and competitive federal grant funding for basic needs,” said Commissioner Bruce Van Note. “With lower levels of capital project production, we are focusing on essential safety needs, bridges, matching federal funds, and low cost patching of higher-priority roads until normal treatments become fiscally possible. 

“The reality is that we are now competently managing a slow decline of our transportation system until bipartisan funding solutions materialize. The system will not fail immediately, and we will do our best to avoid any serious safety impacts, but holding actions only work for a short time, and the reliability of the system will suffer.”

The biggest project in this Work Plan is the replacement of the Madawaska-Edmundston International Bridge. This bridge represents a vital link between Maine and New Brunswick. The current structure is 100 years old and has deteriorated to the point that it is near the end of its useful life.

“The importance of safe and reliable public transportation infrastructure and the effect on it has on our state and local economy cannot be ignored,” said Madawaska Town Manager Gary Picard. “The International Bridge’s five-ton weight limit has been financially detrimental to our town’s largest employer, the Twin Rivers Paper Company, which employs more than 500 workers and contributes to more than 5,800 indirect jobs throughout The County. 

“Under the bridge’s current weight limits, all commercial traffic from Canada to Madawaska must now be rerouted primarily through Van Buren, adding 75 miles and nearly two hours in transit time to each trip. We need a new bridge.”

According to the department, the work plan covers approximately $2.59 billion worth of construction and maintenance, which includes 2,051 work items. The three-year plan estimates the department will invest in 171 miles of highway construction and rehabilitation; 858 miles of pavement preservation; 1,800 miles of light capital paving for roads and highways; 170 safety and spot improvements; and 148 bridge projects.

Some of the other bridge projects slated for Aroostook County include:

Safety and infrastructure improvements that may include construction of the commercial aviation ramp — Phase 3 in Presque Isle; Crystal Station Road Bridge over Interstate 95, located 0.24 miles north of the Sherman town line; repairing post and rail on Puddle Dock Bridge over Pattee Brook, located 100 feet north of Dorsey Road on Route 161 in Fort Fairfield; repairing the fascia and curb and repairing wingwalls on Hockenhull Bridge over Hockenhull Brook, located 0.8 miles north of Route 1A in Fort Fairfield. 

In addition, Maduskeag Bridge over Maduskeag Stream, located 0.93 miles north of the Hodgdon Mills Road in Hodgdon; repairing bridge end posts on Red Bridge which carries Route 2 over B Stream in Houlton; Interstate-95 NB/Route 2 Bridge over Route 2, located 0.3 miles from Exit 291 in Smyrna; I-95 southbound/Route 2 Bridge in Smyrna; Cooks Brook Bridge over Cooks Brook in Houlton; and Randall Bridge over the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River in Island Falls.

Highway Paving/Rehabilitation projects are as follows: beginning at Route 171 and extending northeast 11 miles in Bancroft; repairing low shoulders on Route 1A, beginning at the intersection of the North Caribou Road in Fort Fairfield and extending north 10 miles to the intersection of the Bog Road in Limestone; ditching various locations on Route 2A, beginning at the Glenwood Plantation-Reed town line and extending north 10.1 miles to the Forkstown town line.

Also, right-of-way vegetation management on Interstate 95 southbound in Houlton, beginning at the Exit 305 on-ramp and extending south 2.4 miles to the Exit 302 off-ramp in Houlton; right-of-way vegetation management and grinding stumps on Interstate 95 northbound and southbound, beginning at Exit 302, including Houlton on- and off-ramps in Houlton and Smyrna; and right-of-way vegetation management in the median and back slopes at and around Exit 264 in Sherman, including both northbound and southbound lanes.

Highway safety and spot improvements include: Cable guardrail replacement in Haynesville and Presque Isle; replacing guardrail system on Route 2A in Haynesville; safety and infrastructure improvements that may include the design, permitting and construction for Taxiway “A” in Houlton; safety and infrastructure improvements that may include obstruction removal in Houlton located at the intersection of Smyrna Road and North Street in Houlton; large animal/vehicle crash mitigation measures, beginning at the T2 R9 NWP town line and extending north 28.59 miles to the Crystal town line.

A number of large culvert improvement projects, paving are also included in the work plan. 

The entire Maine Department of Education three-year work plan can be viewed at maine.gov.

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