LEWISTON – City officials are just about ready to say “Wow.”

Work on the Lisbon Street entrance to Lewiston’s downtown has reached a critical phase, according to Assistant City Administrator Greg Mitchell.

“We’re just about at that Wow’ factor we’ve been after down there,” Mitchell said. “I think we’ve done quite a bit to erase people’s opinion of Lewiston, and that’s what we set out to do.”

Crews have started putting down new sidewalks, doing landscaping and installing new streetlights on the city’s Southern Gateway.

City officials announced the $20 million revitalization project in May 2003. The plan called for two new office buildings, hundreds of new jobs, new sidewalks and a new face for lower Lisbon Street.

Gone is the Lincoln Street Radiator shop, a neighboring apartment complex and nearby engine shop. In their place is Oxford Networks new headquarters, Andover College and the elevator towers of Northeast Bank’s four-story office building at Canal and Maple streets.

Across the street, crews have started work on an expansion to the Public Theatre.

Mitchell said the old overhead streetlights should start coming down in next few weeks.

“We’ll keep it up as a parallel system until we get the new lights up, but then the overhead powerlines will disappear,” he said. “We’re moving really quickly now, to get everything done before we get too far into November.”

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