RUMFORD – Motorists who like to take a shortcut between downtown and Route 108 via Railroad Street can no longer do so.

A section of the street has been closed to the public, with signs near Veterans Bridge announcing that the area is private property.

It’s part of a land swap between the town and NewPage Corp. that was agreed to late last spring with the approval of townspeople.

The paper mill plans to build a $5 million electrical substation on a portion of the land the mill acquired from the town.

In return for a 1,700-foot section of Railroad Street, which ends the shortcut, the town received nearly 33 acres of parks, parking lots and other bits and pieces of land generally used by the town but owned by the mill.

Tony Lyons, mill spokesman, said Wednesday that mill officials still have to meet with town officials to work out how to post the Hartford Bridge end of Railroad Street. Plans also need to be worked out on how to access mill property from the street.

The electrical substation will be built, probably beginning next spring. Getting to the point of construction has taken longer than expected, Lyons said Wednesday.

“The design is more complex,” he said.

The mill is working with Central Maine Power Co. and Brookfield Power to get the plan worked out.

The substation will separate power produced by Brookfield Power, which bought the hydro-plant from the mill last year, and power made by the co-generation plant within the mill. Once separated, the mill’s power will go onto the New England power grid.

Construction of the electrical substation is expected to take about a year.

Lyons said access to the mill property will be straightened out within weeks, as will posting of the Hartford Bridge end of Railroad Street.

Town officials said earlier that the land swap was good for the town. Little, if any taxes were lost, and new tax revenue will be realized once the substation is built.

With the land swap, virtually all land parcels once owned by the mill and used by the town were deeded to the town.

They include Morency and Veterans Memorial parks, the Virginia ball field and adjacent land, the ball fields and ice skating rink along Lincoln Avenue, the so-called snow dump along the Androscoggin River off Rumford Avenue, and the overflow parking lot adjacent to the former Agway building.

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