LEWISTON — Long-awaited renovations to downtown Lisbon Street kick off this week as crews begin replacing Ash Street pipes and removing cobblestones.

The project will rework the length of Lisbon Street between Chestnut and Main streets, replacing the road surface and sidewalks, reworking several traffic lights and adding landscaping and other embellishments — always maintaining access to the street and to shops.  

“The major (part) goes from Chestnut to Main Street on Lisbon Street,” said project engineer Ryan Barnes. “The second part involves several intersections: Bates and Pine, Bates and Ash, Canal and Chestnut, and then the intersections between Chestnut and Main streets. Those are traffic signal upgrades.”

Barnes said the road work should continue into November, with the road paving scheduled overnight.

“There are time-of-night restrictions,” Barnes said. “For example, for the block between Ash and Main streets, they cannot start work until after 9 p.m. That was at the request of the restaurants to get them past their busiest hours.”

Crews will work on sidewalks during the day, but Barnes said there will always be access to Lisbon Street’s shops and restaurants.

“The contractor has to keep traffic moving and pedestrian access to the businesses open and available,” he said. “There may be short sections they close while they are working, but traffic flow will be maintained.”

The work starts this week as crews begin replacing a pipe on Ash Street between Canal and Lisbon streets.

“They start with some drainage work at the canal, up Ash Street and to about where Rainbow Bicycle is,” Barnes said. “The bulk of that work begins after the 25th, but they should start this week with some saw-cutting of the pavement.”

Next, they’ll begin milling the asphalt and pulling up the cobblestones on the road between the travel lanes and the parallel parking spaces.

“The cobbles are becoming a maintenance problem for us,” Barnes said. “Those will be removed and it will be paved back in with asphalt.”

Barnes said the cobbles were catching snow plows and made the road icier.

Some will be reused on the sidewalks, included as details and features on the newly poured tinted concrete.

“The sidewalks will have some border and architectural work to them so that some of the tile and some of the brick will be used,” he said. “It will give it a little bit of flair.”

The project also calls for replacing the chain-link fence between Pine and Ash with decorative fencing, cleaning up the alley behind Mother India and planting eight trees.

Another part of the project will replace all of the timed traffic signals along Lisbon Street with networked controls. They’ll be linked with lights along Main Street, Sabattus and streets in Auburn to help downtown traffic flow better.

“We are adding traffic detection so the signal will see the cars,” he said. “It won’t be pretimed any more, and everything will be connected via fiber optics to the traffic network. That gives us capabilities to review them remotely and reprogram them based on traffic demand.”

The work has been planned for more than a year. Councilors approved a version of the project in March 2015 that included bike lanes. A group of residents objected and threatened a recall petition if the bike lanes were not removed.

Councilors agreed to replace dedicated bike lanes with shared lanes and the petition died a year ago, but city crews said it was too late then to begin accepting bids.

It went out to bid in February, and J. Pratt Construction bid $1.9 million for the work. Lewiston is responsible for about $630,000 of the project — including the traffic signal improvements and sidewalks — with the state and federal government paying the balance.

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