A bicyclist travels on Baxter Boulevard in Portland last month. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The reopening of Portland’s Baxter Boulevard has been pushed back to the end of August because of weather-related delays affecting the final part of a $28 million storm and wastewater management project in the Back Cove.

“We appreciate people’s patience,” said Bradley Roland, senior project engineer in the water resource division of Portland’s Department of Public Works. “I think when they see the final product they’ll be really pleased.”

The road has been closed for just over two years from Vannah Avenue to Payson Park because of the Back Cove West Storage Conduit project and had been scheduled to reopen at the end of July. 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.

That part of the project is active and complete, though Roland said he realizes many people are more concerned with the work on the boulevard than the underground storage system.

He said crews are completing sidewalks and retaining walls as well as the installation of a cobblestone gutter which he said has caused the biggest delay because it must be set in dry mortar.

“Every time it rains, they have to put off work because they can’t set the cobblestone in wet mortar,” he said. “The weather has certainly been problematic.”


Paving cannot occur until the cobblestone is set, he said.

The city is aiming for the end of August to complete the work, but Roland said that will also depend on how the weather turns out.

The closed section of Baxter Boulevard off of Vannah Avenue in Portland in July. The road is now expected to reopen at the end of August. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

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 large underground storage tanks that can hold 3.5 million gallons and will help reduce sewer overflows.

Three of the four underground tanks that are part of the Back Cove South Storage Facility have been built, but one of the sites is problematic because of softer soil that has made it more difficult to excavate to the depths needed to construct the tank, Roland said.

He said the city has modified its plans and brought in a specialist contractor to stabilize the soil.

Roland said he expects work on the Back Cove South Storage Facility will hopefully conclude next summer. It was originally slated for completion in December 2022.

“Nobody wants to see this done faster than myself, and the contractor, and the general public,” Roland said. “We’ve been at that one two and a half years now … We certainly want to see it done.”

The cost of that project is $42 million. Roland said there have not been any increased costs from the delays for either project.

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