Chesterville road continues to slide away

0

CHESTERVILLE — The George Thomas Road has caved in more this week, selectmen reported.

About 162 feet of the road dropped down 35 feet toward the Sandy River on May 6. A representative from the Maine Geological Survey has described it as one of the biggest landslides seen in Maine.

David Archer, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said more dirt slid Wednesday and Thursday. During the board’s meeting that night, members approved more excavator work to smooth the area off, hopefully stopping more dirt from sliding, he said.

“We’re still working and taking steps (toward repair), but we need to know what’s there and what we can do and what will stay,” he said.

Advertisement

The board is waiting on the results of the geological study to find out what kinds of soils are present, the depth and the extent of under-drainage, now that the area has dried out some, he said.

The road, starting from Route 41 in Farmington Falls, goes through a portion of Chesterville and on to New Sharon. It has been closed to traffic since the landslide. Dirt piles were set up on either end of the slide to keep motorists out.

Dennis Lafontaine, whose driveway is in the middle of the closed portion, said he lost electricity again Thursday about 6 a.m. for an hour when more of the road caved in. He has to park his vehicle down the road from his home because of the cave-in.

He said he was told the town was considering soil boring tests to determine whether the now narrow portion of road left could be opened as a one-lane road. That could cost thousands of dollars, he said.

Archer said soil boring tests are being considered to see if there is solid footing, but opening one lane depends on what the Department of Environmental Protection requires to stabilize the road.

“I don’t want to spend money and just throw it away,” he said. “We’re doing the assessments and steps, trying to find help with funding. We’re still working on it.”

The board will meet with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials again in a couple weeks to continue seeking funding, Archer added.

While the road is closed indefinitely, redirecting the road to open it up for the few residents within the closed area may have to be considered, he said.

On the other side of the slide, the Sandy River Golf Course has felt a big impact, owner Ethel Bardsley said. Fewer golfers are coming daily after work to use the driving range, she said.

A detour from the Farmington Falls end of George Thomas Road down Route 41 to Route 134 onto the New Sharon end of the road is an extra five miles. From the Farmington Falls end to New Sharon and up Cape Cod Hill Road to George Thomas is an extra eight miles, she said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

More of the George Thomas Road in Chesterville eroded this week. On May 6, a section 162 feet long slid down 35 feet toward the Sandy River.

Advertisement