The Maine Department of Transportation will be implementing traffic changes and width restrictions on parts of its highway reconstruction project in Turner and Buckfield.

“We’ve reached the point in the work where we need to change traffic patterns in order to continue the project,” explains Jeffrey Wallace, MaineDOT’s construction manager on the project.

The 6-mile-long project begins at the intersection of Routes 117 and 140 in Buckfield and extends east along Route 117 to Route 4 in Turner. The traffic changes will be taking place at Bog Brook, where traffic will be restricted to a single lane to allow for installation of a new box culvert, and near the Buckfield end of the project, where a detour will be created to route traffic around the installation of a deep, 4-foot-diameter drainage pipe under Route 117.

“At Bog Brook, we’ll be restricting traffic to one lane, with temporary traffic signals regulating alternating one-way traffic through the work area. The new box culvert is 13 feet wide by 7 feet deep, creating the need for the one-lane restriction while we install it. We’ll do our best to keep traffic moving, but drivers should expect significant delays in that area. The one-lane restrictions will be in place from now through late September,” Wallace explained.

In conjunction with the single-lane traffic, MaineDOT is imposing a width restriction on vehicles using that part of Route 117, prohibiting traffic wider than 10 feet.

“We strongly urge drivers who have an alternate route available to them to consider using it,” Wallace said. “That applies especially to drivers of tractor-trailer units because of the narrow clearances in some of our work areas. The greater the number of vehicles using alternate routes, the shorter the delays will be for those who have no choice but to travel through our work area. Additionally, fewer vehicles passing through the work zone makes it easier for us to get the work done more quickly and safely. Drivers who have no alternative should expect delays and build in additional travel time to reach their destination.”

The other traffic change relates to the installation of a deeply buried drainage pipe on the Buckfield end of the project.

“We’ll be using a detour for about a week while we do that work. Beginning Monday, we will be detouring westbound traffic onto Route 124 and the North South Hill Road, bringing them back onto Route 117 in downtown Buckfield. Eastbound traffic will use the same detour in the opposite direction,” Wallace said. “We expect the detour to be in place through Friday, July 20.”

The overall project is designed to make a variety of improvements.

“We’re making changes to reduce humps and dips in the existing pavement, easing some of the curves in the existing roadway, replacing drainage structures, completely rebuilding the roadbed in some areas and putting a variable-depth layer of gravel on top of the existing roadway to form the base for new pavement in other locations. What we’re doing in specific areas depends a lot on the specific conditions at each location,” Wallace said.

The contract for the project, awarded to K & K Excavation of Turner on a bid of nearly $5.6 million, calls for completion of all work on the project by the end of June 2008.