LEWISTON — People on both sides of the Androscoggin River north of downtown soon will see new power-line poles going up, replacing the trees that were cut down last month.

Chris Marshall, spokesman for Burns and McDonnell Engineers, said workers are cutting trees and pouring concrete foundations for Central Maine Power’s new Lewiston Loop project. The line will eventually connect the Twin Cities’ downtowns to the rest of CMP’s expanded grid.

“We are actually doing some clearing in Auburn, widening the existing corridor,” Marshall said. “We did have to do some clearing in Lewiston as we approached Boxer Island and the Memorial Bridge. We’ve actually made good headway.”

Work on the Lewiston Loop began in August.

The 115-kilovolt transmission line will connect the Larrabee Road substation to a yet-to-be built downtown substation on Middle Street, at the foot of the Great Falls.

Marshall said work on that substation would begin next spring and be finished in 2017.

“We need the substation itself downtown,” Marshall said. “We are building this all concurrently with two different contractors so when we finish it, these lines will be ready to go.”

The downtown loop will run from Middle Street north along the Pan Am Railway line to Veterans Memorial Bridge, where it will cross the river to Auburn and continue north, past the Deer Rips Dam and on to the Gulf Island Dam. It will cross back into Lewiston at Gulf Island and continue to the Larrabee Road substation.

Workers have been cutting trees in Lewiston and Auburn, making room for the expansion. With that work mostly done, they’ve started digging foundations for the new power lines.

“We will begin installing conductors and the lines sometime toward the spring of next year,” Marshall said. 

The project calls for metal poles between 70 and 100 feet tall along the railway in Lewiston and similarly sized wooden poles in Auburn between North River Road and the Androscoggin River up to Gulf Island Dam.

“In Lewiston, where we run along the railroad, we have a smaller space to work in,” Marshall said. “There is a little extra tension on the lines there, so we need the metal poles.”

It’s all part of CMP’s $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Program, which involves several years’ worth of construction to erect 442 miles of transmission lines across 75 Maine cities and towns.

The project calls for upgrading a swath of power lines, beginning in Eliot and passing through central Maine to Orrington, where they connect to lines from Canada. Along the way, they pass through Litchfield, Monmouth, Leeds, Greene, Lewiston and a corner of Auburn at the Durham line.

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