Carrabassett Valley deals with aftermath of Hurricane Irene

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Sugarloaf Mountain is now accessible from Route 27 through a series of private roads … at least for those on the south side of a two-bridge washout Sunday. One of the bridges is north of the Sugarloaf Access Road and the other is just south of the road.

The Sugarloaf Access Road can now be reached through Sugarloaf Village on the Brackett Brook Road.

About 100 guests and employees were stranded overnight on the mountain after the bridges collapsed late Sunday afternoon closing through-traffic along Route 27 from Kingfield to Eustis.

The area received about 8.5 inches of rain during Sunday’s storm causing high a volume of water in the Carrabassett River, Brad Larsen, vice president of sales and marketing at Sugarloaf said. The bridge north of Sugarloaf crosses the South Branch of the Carrabassett River. The bridge to the south of Sugarloaf is about 500 feet from the resort’s access road.

Maine Department of Transportation officials spent Monday on site assessing and trying to determine the best course of action to replace the bridges and manage traffic through that area, Mark Latti, spokesman for the department said. They are preparing both a short and long-term plan. Installing temporary bridges at one or both sites on Route 27 and improving private roads leading to Sugarloaf is one option being considered, he said.

Gov. Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt flew in Monday to survey the situation, Latti said. Northern Franklin and Oxford counties received the worst damage in the state.

“MaineDOT is working with the governor’s office to expedite the repair and replacement process for these bridges due to the importance of Route 27 to the regional economy. MaineDOT is also working closely with Federal Highway Administration officials. The cost for the emergency work will be entirely or predominantly federally-funded,”  Latti said in a release.

In addition to the two bridges, there’s extensive damage to Route 27 near an area known as the S turns where the river came up and over the road, eroding the riverbank, Dave Cota, Carrabassett Valley town manager said.

“Traffic is down to one lane. There’s a significant amount of work for MDOT to do,” he said.

The town has it’s own share of work to do. There was a fair amount of damage to the town-owned Sugarloaf Golf Club, he said.

“The good news is the course will reopen with nine holes tomorrow and be open with 18 holes on Wednesday with two alternate tees,” Cota said.

Sugarloaf Golf Club, operated by Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, experienced damage to two golf cart bridges which access tees on the north side of the South Branch of the Carrabassett River, Larsen said.

“Our team is working to post detour signs to direct people from Route 27 to the resort, via the alternate route,” he said late Monday.

There was also extensive damage to the town’s bike trail, the Narrow Gauge Passway, a bridge at the trail head on Campbell Field was damaged, Cota said. There was also damage to roads at the Outdoor Center.

“There’s no means to get to the town’s transfer station,” Bill Gilmore, CV code enforcement officer said.

The station is north of the bridges with an entrance on top of Bigelow Hill.

“We may be able to work with the folks in Kingfield if this goes on,” Cota said.

“We were hit pretty hard. It happens about every 20 years … a flash flood over a 24-hour period in mountain terrain with a river down in the valley,” he said.

Detours for motorists heading south from Stratton include crossing Route 16 to Rangeley and then down Route 4 to Farmington, he said. The route adds about 15 extra miles.

Those in Kingfield who want to go North need to cross over Route 142 to Phillips then take Route 4 to Rangeley and Route 16 to Stratton and then down, an estimated 34 miles longer than traveling from Kingfield to Stratton along Route 27.

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