Workers with Tri-State Curb and Coleman Concrete complete sidewalks on Congress Street in Rumford on Friday. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The contractor for the multimillion dollar project to replace water and sewer lines in the downtown business district expects to wrap up work by July 4, Town Manager Stacy Carter told selectmen Thursday.

“That’s certainly ahead of what we were projecting,” he said. “That’s very good news and at the rate that they’re going, I believe they will reach that benchmark.”

Sargent Corp. of Old Town began replacing lines on The Island business district in 2018, but was slowed last year when it found unexpected structures in the ground such as excess rock and ledge, and vaults that were extensions of basements that protruded under sidewalks. Then-interim Town Manager Scott Cole said the engineering design lacked specificity, leading to the slowdown.

The company also postponed work last summer while waiting for Rumford voters to pass a $2.9 million bond to cover cost overruns. The project was 75% complete at the time. Work resumed this spring and was expected to continue into August.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $7.1 million, or $1.5 million less than an earlier estimate.

Carter said he has had no complaints from businesses during the push to finish the work, which includes new sidewalks and other improvements.

“People have been able to access all the businesses even with the sidewalks being put in,” he said.

George O’Keefe, town economic development director, said businesses on The Island are reopening in compliance with the governor’s directives and required safety measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

“As of the last report, we still had not lost any businesses or projects that were underway at the time of the pandemic,” O’Keefe said. All the spaces on Waldo Street are occupied, except for one, he said.

Carter said the town is planning to return to holding public meetings in June. The next selectmen meeting is at 6:30 p.m. June 4 in the Rumford Falls Auditorium.

“We will have several additional meetings that got postponed because of COVID-19,” he said. “I will be scheduling a meeting for a multiunit inspection program sometime in June, and a workshop with selectmen to discuss the sewer rate policy and get that more current.”

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