Mechanic Falls – Local drivers accustomed to using Elm Street as a shortcut through town will find traffic slow-going the next few weeks due to major road reconstruction.

Road crews started Monday, the first full day after Elm Street School let out for the summer, and already have ground up a 3,000-linear-foot section of the street. That section lies between True Street near the school and Goss Berry Farm near the intersection of Poland Corner Road where Elm Street becomes Harris Hill Road.

Traffic will be down to one lane for the next three to four weeks during reconstruction and through-traffic is being discouraged, said Town Manager Dana Lee, who traded his customary tie for a T-shirt while working as a road-flagger Tuesday.

The new section of road should cost about $43,000, according to a list of projects approved by voters at the May town meeting. The project will include new cross-culverts and side ditches, Lee said.

Other paving projects already funded and approved for this year will improve the Fire Department and Town Hall parking lots and build a new sidewalk along Elm Street.

Public Works staff have identified another $286,000 worth of road projects that are the subject of a proposed bond and special June 22 town meeting.

In addition to the roadwork, the Water Department is replacing 2,800 feet of the 12-inch water main. That job is expected to take about 10 days, beginning June 21.

“There should be minimal disruption in water service during this work,” Lee said. “But we will certainly notify people if there is any.”

The cost of the new water main section to replace the 80- to 100-year-old pipe is about $52,000. Water Department revenue comes from ratepayers and not from the town’s general fund or property taxes.

The Water Department set aside money the past two years in a reserve account for this project and will not ask customers for any rate increase to pay for it, Lee said.

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