Another section of Portland’s Baxter Boulevard is about to be shut down to traffic, a closure that will last until late next year to allow crews to complete construction of a multimillion-dollar sewer separation project.

The major street closure was announced by the city late last week, just days before the next phase of the Back Cove West Storage Conduit project begins. Back Cove Trail, the popular 3½-mile gravel walking, bicycling and running path that runs adjacent to Baxter Boulevard, will remain open during the 16-month-long project, which begins Sept. 7, according to city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin.

Baxter Boulevard from Payson Park to Vannah Avenue is currently closed to traffic due to the same project. The next phase will result in the closure of Baxter Boulevard from Payson Park to Dartmouth Street. In addition, Vannah Avenue from Clifton Street to Baxter Boulevard will be closed.

The $27.2 million project is aimed at preventing sewer overflows into Back Cove, a tidal basin that separates downtown Portland from some of the city’s most densely populated residential neighborhoods.

Traffic congestion is also an issue nearby as crews install new sewer and storm drains in Ocean Avenue. That work, according to the city, will be wrapping up in November. The contractor, Gorham Sand and Gravel of Buxton, still needs to install water mains in Ocean Avenue from Parsons Road to Chenery Street. New storm drains and water mains also will be installed in Walton Street, work that will occur in October. Effective Monday, Ocean Avenue will be open to two-way traffic on nights between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and on weekends.

The Ocean Avenue project is expected to cost about $5.5 million, according to the city.

Grondin advised motorists to seek alternate routes once the next phase of the Back Cove West Storage Conduit project begins Sept. 7. She said the Sargent Corp. of Stillwater is constructing the project. Though the latest closure is expected to end by December 2022, some roadwork will remain. The city said that streets in the affected area will need to be repaved in 2023.

Just south of the Back Cove West Storage Conduit project, closer to Interstate 295, in a field near the Hannaford supermarket, another sewer project is underway. That project will contain four giant underground storage tanks that can hold 3.5 million gallons. The project will help reduce sewer overflows. It’s funded by wastewater fees, which are based on water use by homeowners and businesses.

The sewer separation project on Baxter Boulevard is one of the city’s latest efforts to prevent combined sewer overflows from entering Back Cove. The project is part of an agreement the city has with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce and eliminate the flow and discharge of combined waste and stormwater.

The new system will transport wastewater from homes, industries and businesses along with stormwater collected from streets, parking lots and roofs to the East End Wastewater Treatment Plant. Combined sewer overflows typically occur when the capacity levels are overwhelmed during a heavy rain event.

Public questions or concerns about the project should be directed to Project Engineer Nathaniel Smith at 207-874-8818 or [email protected]


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