AUBURN — The days are numbered for the 770-foot-long mural along Main Street in Auburn.
Crews Monday begin work narrowing the road between Academy Street and Little Androscoggin Bridge, part of a summer-long beautification project.
But work on the mural itself, stretching along the east side of Main Street from the northern Newbury Street intersection to the southern Newbury Street intersection, begins a week or two later.
"We'll be power washing it and then sand blasting it," said Reine Mynahan, Auburn's community development director. "We'll put a sealer up on it and we'll paint over, for the last time."
The mural, drawn by school students in 2001, will be replaced by a more portable art display. Mynahan said the city, working with L/A Arts, will asking local artists to design a new mural in August. It will be photographed and printed on a durable foam boards that will be affixed to the wall in permanent frames. There will be nine 24-foot-long panels and four 4-foot long panels.
"It will cover the whole stretch of that wall and will include plantings and refurbished sidewalks the entire way," he said.
The city has been working on replacing the mural for the last two years.
"The wall was really built without good drainage, and there has been a lot of water seeping out over the years," she said. "It's why there is so much cracking and peeling and splitting on the wall and why the mural looks so weathered."
This will be the third art display along the wall. The first mural, depicting rural Maine scenes, went up the early 1990s but was replaced in 2001.
Area school children worked with a local artist to design scenes for individual sections of the wall. Some depict balloons from the Great Falls Balloon Festival, while others show shoes being made. Another depicts a scene from the Great Auburn Fire of 1933.
The latest project is part of the overall street-scape improvements for Main Street. Last year, crews repaved and rebuilt the road between Court and Academy streets, adding new curbs, narrowing the road and building grassy esplanades in places.
The same kind of changes are in store for the southern stretch. Community Specialist Tracey Steuber said the city is adding a grassy esplanade to the northern sidewalk and installing new street lights along the road.
Traffic along the road won't be detoured and lanes won't be closed during most of the work, but lanes will be shifted and there will be flaggers and traffic controls onsite for the duration of the work. Area businesses will remain open.