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First section of Presque Isle bypass opened Thursday

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The first leg of the Presque Isle bypass opened to traffic on Thursday, June 20, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

The first 1.7-mile section of the Presque Isle bypass opened at 9 a.m. on Thursday, said MDOT spokesperson Paul Merrill. The new roadway has been ready to open and was awaiting a final paving as of this June, he said.

Construction on the first section began in the fall of 2016 with Madawaska-based Ed Pelletier & Sons as the contractor. The 1.7-mile section runs from south to north between Conant and Fort Fairfield roads, and came to a total cost of $16.8 million.

That price tag includes $4.4 million in property acquisition costs related to 28 parcels that were affected by the section of road, Merrill said. Six buildings along the route were torn down and four households were relocated, he said.

The bypass originally was envisioned more than two decades ago as a way to route truck traffic going through Presque Isle to two of Aroostook County’s largest factories, McCain Foods and Huber Engineered Woods in Easton.

A second section of the bypass running from the south and spanning 5.9 miles is in the design phase, with construction years away and “dependent on the availability of funding,” Merrill said.

That section is estimated to cost $45.4 million and run from the south end of Presque Isle on Route 1 to Route 10 in Easton. While funding for the second phase has not been fully allocated, the costs for the entire project will ultimately be shared between the federal and state governments, with Maine covering 20 percent.  

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