A cyclist gets on the Back Cove Trail in front of the closed portion of Baxter Boulevard near Vannah Avenue in Portland on Thursday. Baxter Boulevard is scheduled to reopen by the end of July. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Baxter Boulevard in Portland is expected to reopen at the end of July, ending more than two years of travel nightmares that also quieted one of the city’s residential areas.

The city said this week that final paving is expected to be finished during the week of July 24, weather depending.

Some Back Cove residents like Bettina Blanchard have mixed feelings about the much-delayed end of construction.

“We have enjoyed the quiet,” said Blanchard, who lives on Hersey Street.

But the closure also made it difficult to get out of the neighborhood, and a lot of traffic cut through the area, she said.

“It’ll be easier to get to Hannaford and 295 North,” said Blanchard, 62.


Baxter Boulevard has been closed for just over two years from Vannah Avenue to Payson Park as the city built a 2.25 million gallon underground storage system to keep untreated storm- and wastewater from flowing into Casco Bay, which can occur during heavy rains. The project consolidates the city’s eight systems into just two.

Bettina Blanchard outside her home on Hersey Street in Portland on Thursday. Blanchard said a surprisingly positive consequence of the Baxter Boulevard closure has been the lack of cut-through traffic on her street between Ocean Avenue and Baxter. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The construction was supposed to be completed in 2021, but it was delayed due to value engineering to lower the cost of the project and other setbacks. In February, the city announced a July 2023 completion date, said Brad Roland, senior project manager for the Back Cove West project.

Coveside Coffee opened in June 2021, around the time the construction began, so the owners don’t know what to expect when the road reopens.

The coffee shop gets a lot of foot traffic and has seen a bump since the boulevard reopened between Preble and Vannah streets this year, co-owner Andy Nesheim said Thursday.

Andy Nesheim, co-owner of Coveside Coffee, said the lack of communication from the city about the length of the Baxter Boulevard closure has been frustrating. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

He’s been frustrated with a lack of information or updates from the city.

“We’re happy it’s reopening, not with the communication,” Nesheim said. “We’re thrilled to see people back on the cove.”


Finley Welch, 24, was walking the Back Cove Trail on Thursday morning and said the road closure was an annoyance.

“I hate the noise,” said Welch, who lives three streets from the construction.

It’s not clear yet if the city will resume its practice of closing the road on Sundays during the summer to give residents more access. A spokesperson for the city said Thursday that city staff are considering several ideas.

The road is expected to remain open after July, but there’s still some work to finish on the project, Roland said, including laying cobblestones along the gutter line, some curbing, and landscaping and cleanup.

Meanwhile, construction is expected to continue for another year at the nearby Back Cove South Storage Facility near the Back Cove Trail off Preble Street and Interstate 295.

Crews have been unable to install a third tank for a little over a year because the underground clay was too soft, Roland said. But that work is expected to resume next week.

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