2013-09-06 / Front Page

Construction projects to end

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – From visitors in town for a day to residents who make the daily commute from home to work, chances are anyone who has driven through South Portland recently has been met by construction crews working on the roads.

From east Broadway to Westbrook Street on the west end of the city, a variety of ongoing construction projects to make various improvements have been taking place simultaneously. Most of the projects are expected to be completed in early to mid-September.

Crews from Shaw Brothers Construction of Gorham began repaving a section of Broadway roughly one mile long from the intersection of Cottage Road to the Preble Street crossing in a project funded by the Maine Department of Transportation. The work overlapped with move-in day for Southern Maine Community College, where commuting students often already experience delays coming to and from the campus located on the water.

However, both South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey and SMCC President Ron Cantor said the construction delays have been more manageable than anticipated.

Gailey said contractors, DOT officials and city staff met before the college’s move-in date to prioritize work that could cause traffic delays. That work was mostly finished before students arrived.

“Shaw Brothers is doing a nice job keeping everything open. We haven’t had the tie-ups we thought we’d have,” Gailey said.

Cantor said the college made students aware of an alternate route to campus through Cottage Road, Pillsbury Street and Preble Street before move-in to ease the traffic burden, while contractors did all they could to facilitate vehicle flow through high-traffic commuting times. The paving project is scheduled to finish by Sunday, Sept. 15.

“It’s never easy, but we’re making it as manageable as possible for everyone involved,” Cantor said.

SMCC’s total enrollment, between its midcoast campus in Brunswick and the South Portland campus, has grown steadily in recent years, exceeding 7,000 students in 2012. About 400 students live in South Portland in two on-campus dorms.

In an effort to ease the traffic burden as enrollment expands, SMCC began offering students free rides on South Portland city buses and Metro buses with a student ID in 2010.

Near the section of Broadway under construction, a collaborative project between the city and the Portland Water District is underway. Crews from R.J. Grondin & Sons of Gorham are working to separate the city-owned sewer lines in the Mussey Street and Sprague Street area, while simultaneously replacing Portland Water District’s water mains.

The area of the combined project is less than a mile from the section of Broadway being repaved. However, Gailey said there is no cumulative effect upon traffic because the projects are completely separate and the residential streets have remained open while crews work in the area. The six-week project is expected to be completed by the end of September.

“We’re seeing no tie-ups or traffic issues either on Cottage Road or Broadway. It’s not an issue at all,” Gailey said.

Meanwhile, farther down Broadway, drivers traveling west have experienced a detour through Lincoln Street to Cash Corner as the Maine DOT repaves a stretch of Broadway. Normal traffic patterns are expected to resume Saturday, Sept. 7.

Finally, crews are scheduled to repave a section of Westbrook Street near the I-295 exit ramp beginning the night of Tuesday, Sept. 3. Gailey said much of the grinding and repaving in the area will take place at night, when most of the traffic for the area heavy with retail stores has dissipated.

While the ongoing projects are scheduled to finish in September, Gailey said there is still more work on the horizon. He said the section of Broadway he hears complaints about most often is near the Municipal Golf Course, from Cash Corner to Westbrook Street. The Portland Water District recently replaced water mains in the area, meaning repaving will have to wait until the spring or early summer, but city crews will begin work in the coming weeks to replace sidewalks on the stretch of road.

Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at sentry.mainelymediallc.com and let us know your thoughts.

Return to top