May 24, 2013

In Maine, a Causeway cause to celebrate

Thank You Naples Day will express gratitude to the people who put up with the construction along Route 302.

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

The celebration planned for the Naples Causeway this weekend was originally supposed to mark the completion of the project that began in 2010.

click image to enlarge

Work is finishing up at the Naples Causeway after years of construction. Photographed on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Naples resident Carmen Caron walks along the new bridge as work is finishing up at the Naples Causeway after years of construction. Photographed on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

Then, it looked like the causeway wouldn't be ready in time.

Although there's still work left to do, the event will go on – with a slight change in theme, from a grand opening to an expression of gratitude for the people who put up with the construction along Route 302 in Naples' village.

"They've come pretty close to meeting the deadline," said Town Manager Derik Goodine. "To me, it looks 99 percent done."

Thank You Naples Day is scheduled to start at noon Sunday with performances by children's musicians and last through the end of a fireworks display around 9:45 p.m.

Entertainers will perform throughout the day at the amphitheater, one of the new features of the causeway where Long Lake and Brandy Pond meet.

Goodine said he's not sure yet how many people the venue will hold, because it has never been used.

The event, he said, "will show us what we can do down there."

A year ago, the town celebrated the opening of a new concrete bridge -- the biggest part of the Maine Department of Transportation's $11 million project to renovate the causeway.

The fixed-span bridge replaced a 60-year-old swing bridge that had deteriorated.

Construction crews have been there since, taking down the old bridge and working on the rest of the project, which includes new sidewalks and a sea wall.

Goodine knew there had to be another celebration.

"It was supposed to be wrapped up by Memorial Day," he said, so he booked the fireworks display.

But just over a month ago, everything was put on hold.

"We weren't sure what was going to be finished," Goodine said.

Some paving that was done last year didn't meet the Department of Transportation's standards and had to be redone. That work was finished last week, said transportation department spokesman Ted Talbot.

Now, the road must be striped, a weather-dependent project that this week's rain has not helped.

"The timetable has been pushed back," Talbot said.

Other work that's keeping construction crews on the causeway includes smoothing out driveways so they're flush with the new road, landscaping, staining the bridge and fixing problems with the boardwalk and sidewalk.

Talbot said that work is expected to be done by the end of June.

Still, enough has been completed to keep the project from causing too many problems during this holiday weekend, when the number of vehicles crossing the causeway can double from the weekend before Memorial Day, according to the Department of Transportation.

Bob Neault, chairman of the Causeway Restoration Committee, said he would like to see another celebration to mark the completion of the project, but it's hard to say when it should happen -- when the construction equipment is gone or when there's a cover on the amphitheater stage.

There also are longer-term plans, for a waterfall and a historic preservation park, Neault said.

"We will always be spending money down there," Goodine said. "It will never be done, if you wait for a true finish date."

Even though everything isn't complete right on time, Neault said, he and others are more than pleased with what has been done.

"I think it has exceeded many expectations," he said.


Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:


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