The expected $1.1 million sewer extension project on Commercial Street (Route 1) from Elwood Avenue to Light Lane in Rockport is well under way after cutting through some red tape that almost held up its start.

According to Rockport Town Manager Richard Bates at the June 23 select board meeting, after a rough start the project is moving along and picking up steam everyday.

“After a bunch of fits and starts the sewer extension project is finally under way,” Bates said. “There was a bit of red tape that we had to get through and I'm happy to say that while working with CDBG and the state to help navigate through it, we found an acceptable solution.”

The solution, according to Bates, was that the town would begin the project with the town funds they already have available and when the public comment period for the bond is over, continue the project with state Community Development Block Grant funds.

“Essentially it allows us to spend our money first, rather than having to wait until the public hearing period is over to get started,” he said.

Public Works Director Michael Young said at the meeting that digging was slow to start, but after getting through some of the toughest sections of road, the work should continue at a pretty good pace.

“There have been some bumps along the way,” Young said. “They got 46-feet done on day one and it dropped to 36-feet the next day due to manholes. They reached 75-feet today and hope do 100-feet a day going forward.”

Back in March, Bates told the select board that because of a request by Maine Department of Environmental Protection to research and answer a number of questions, the possibility of falling out of the spring construction cycle was a very “real” possibility.

“We have hit several glitches and different obstacles that we have had to work through,” Bates said. “The bottom line is we answered all of the DEP’s questions — some of which we could argue had no bearing on the project — but we chose rather to answer the questions and move on because we are running out of time.”

A questions about the environmental impact on a 1,800-foot section of the project were a waste of time because construction is occurring under an existing right-of-way, he said.

In the 1980s the town was faced with serious environmental issues because many homes and businesses discharged raw sewage into both the harbor and Clam Cove. Mandated by the state, the town constructed a sewer system in two parts, one to service the village and the other to service people living in Glen Cove.

Without a treatment plant of its own, agreements were made with Camden and Rockland to send the waste water to their treatment plants, with the two sections going to the town closest in proximity.

In 1988 and 1989, expansion of the original system took place to include some properties on Commercial Street (Route 1) and West Street (Route 90), which now serves both Camden Hills Regional High School and Camden-Rockport Elementary School, and opened that corridor for commercial expansion.

The project is expected to be finished by fall 2014.