Long-awaited repairs begin on Route 1 through Presque Isle

1 month ago

Travelers through Presque Isle will soon have smoother sailing thanks to a Maine Department of Transportation project that started Wednesday.

Crews and machinery spent the morning on Main Street, which is part of U.S. Route 1, stripping sections of pavement starting near the Aroostook River Bridge by Caribou Road.  

The deeply rutted road has affected traffic through Presque Isle for more than a year, growing steadily worse because of heavy traffic. The $1.64 million state-funded project is part of the Maine Department of Transportation’s 2024 work plan. Workers will repair and replace pavement on a 2.3-mile section of Route 1 starting near the University of Maine at Presque Isle and going north.

Paving should start next Wednesday, May 29, and work is scheduled to be finished June 10. 

Though drivers can expect construction zones and should be prepared for delays, the finished surface should be a welcome change from the lurching, bumping and hydroplaning caused by the ruts.

“The ruts themselves happen from heavy traffic volume. Traffic has definitely contributed to it,” said Dan Molaver, state construction project superintendent with the Maine DOT Northern Region in Presque Isle. “It’s good that we’re here now fixing it.”

Presque Isle’s Main Street was last resurfaced about three years ago, but has rapidly deteriorated. For this project, workers will use a special paving mix that contains polymer and stronger compaction equipment to make it last longer, Molaver said.  

Crews from Northeast Paving in Presque Isle, with help from Hopkins Milling and Paving of Hermon, will remove portions of pavement in order to flatten out the worst ruts, then will fill the surface in and repave, he said.

Currently there is two-way traffic, although it’s reduced to one lane in places, he said. Flaggers are directing vehicle flow.

“The section of roadway was originally reconstructed in 1953. It was most recently dragged and shimmed to fill the ruts in 2021,”  said Paul Merrill, Maine DOT communications director. “The ruts are caused by traffic, poor performing hot-mix asphalt and weak underlying soils.”

The new pavement is a temporary fix until the Maine DOT’s starts its Village Partnership Program redesign in Presque Isle, he said.

That project will involve creation of a downtown village center and reconstruction of Main Street. Maine DOT introduced the project locally in 2022 and residents offered feedback last year.

Several Maine communities are involved in the Village Partnership program in an effort to increase accessibility and draw more people and business to their downtowns.
Maine DOT will undertake another improvement in Presque Isle with the creation of the second leg of the Presque Isle bypass. The $84.3 million project, one of the state’s largest road projects over the next three years, will connect the existing northern leg of the bypass to Route 1, south of the city center.