Maine Maritime Museum once had a front parking lot that sloped down about 25 feet, and then back up toward the Bath building. The new grade completed late last month is a few feet, eliminating the need for steps and improving accessibility. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — As the second part of a two-phase redesign of its 243 Washington St. campus begins, Maine Maritime Museum has raised nearly $3.4 million toward the 5-acre project, exceeding its goal by almost $35,000.

When complete, the project will alleviate some of the accessibility and aesthetic problems at the entrance to the campus, including lack of functional, handicapped-accessible parking; front steps, curbs and parking lot surfaces that were deteriorating; no turning area for buses; insufficient parking for large vehicles, and the absence of a connection between the museum’s north and south parking areas, which causes more traffic to spill out to Washington Street.

All the trees along the road were removed to allow the work. In their place by this fall will be 73 new trees, more than 2,000 shrubs, and nearly 1,500 perennials and grasses. The new trees will reflect lumber used in traditional shipbuilding: cedar, larch, oak and white pine.

Todd Richardson & Associates of Saco is the landscape architect and Crooker Construction of Topsham is the general contractor.

The museum’s new concrete arrival plaza will include an inlaid map of the Kennebec River, which rolls behind the campus. The image will trace the river from Moosehead Lake down to its mouth by Popham Beach. Courtesy Maine Maritime Museum

The first phase, comprising the museum’s front entrance and parking lot, began in March and is due to conclude this month. The lot previously dipped down about 25 feet from Washington Street and then about the same length up to the museum’s 16 steps.

To level that grade to about 4 feet from street to entrance, eliminating the need for steps, Crooker hauled in 9,000 yards of fill – removed from the site of another of its projects, the future Morse High School at the Wing Farm business park.

The lot, which was closed to vehicles the past few months, re-opened July 3, museum Executive Director Amy Lent said. It has been reconfigured to provide “ample” handicapped parking, and plantings were to begin this week, she said.

Concrete has been poured for a new arrival plaza that will include an inlaid map of the Kennebec River, which runs behind the campus. The image will trace the river from Moosehead Lake in Greenville to its mouth near Popham Beach in Phippsburg. Sandblasting will follow after four weeks of concrete curing, and the work should be complete by the end of this month, if weather permits, Lent said.

The second phase, due to begin Monday, will start with work on the Kennebec River Great Lawn, adjacent to the museum’s Long Reach Hall, so it will be ready for August weddings, she said.

The south parking area, which was a dusty gravel lot that greeted visitors as they disembarked from cruise ships, will be torn up and paved with marked parking spots. New garden areas will also provide a more welcoming experience, Lent said.

One garden, next to a museum exhibit about nearby Bath Iron Works, will honor U.S. Navy families.

The Kennebec Riverwalk, a boardwalk along the wetlands, will be the final step, Lent said. Approximately 180 feet long, it will offer scenic views of the river, marshlands and Doubling Point Light Station.

The public will be able to access all of the green space at no charge.

With the museum exceeding its campaign goal, additional funds raised “will go towards reserves for future maintenance needs, including things like browntail moth treatments and professional arborist attention to the legacy oak in the center of the site,” Lent said.

Lent previously said the work “will have a lasting impact on thousands of visitors and locals for years to come. The new landscape and arrival experience will beautify the south end of Washington Street, celebrate our unique connection to the Kennebec River, and will be accessible to everyone. Finally, the exterior appearance of the museum will reflect the world-class experience found inside.”