Farmington considers moving Whittier Road, if feds delay funding

FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday discussed building a new section of road in case the town does not get federal funding soon to stabilize the Sandy River riverbank near Whittier Road.

Ann Bryant/Sun Journal

Erosion along the Sandy River threatens the Whittier Road in Farmington at a spot just beyond the truck. Selectmen discussed bypassing the site by using a wood road.

Ann Bryant/Sun Journal

With permission from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Farmington had a crew remove sand from a sandbar along the Sandy River. The town is awaiting federal funding approval to repair the eroding riverbank, which threatens Whittier Road.

Ann Bryant/Sun Journal

Riverbank erosion along the Sandy River threatens Whittier Road in Farmington at a spot near this intersection with Route 156. Selectmen this week discussed reconfiguring the road.

Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on the riverbank last August, and rains this past spring eroded it to just 36 feet from the road.

Selectmen recently posted that section of road to a limit of 23,000 pounds. Further erosion could close a portion of road and reroute emergency vehicles and school buses.

Selectmen considered building a new section of road on a wood road connecting Whittier with Route 156 west of the present intersection, bypassing the erosion site.

The riverbank stabilization work needs to be completed during the annual low water window of July 15 to Sept. 30. The town needs Federal Emergency Management Agency approval by mid- to late-August in order to complete the work this year.

Last week, FEMA requested a biological assessment as part of the review for funding, which is also subject to review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

The town needs to hire a consultant to complete the assessment, which could take six to 12 weeks, and Davis could not estimate the potential cost.

Because FEMA doesn't see the project as an emergency, Davis and selectmen sent a letter requesting help from U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, and Rep. Michael Michaud. They responded quickly with a letter to FEMA asking to expedite the steps for funding review to help with the estimated $227,000 project.

It's not a matter of if but when Whittier Road collapses, Davis said, anticipating the potential for more weather damage before next June.

Selectman Ryan Morgan said while vehicles such as oil trucks and school buses are exempt from the road posting, some oil companies have already banned their trucks from traveling the road.

Davis proposed circumventing Whittier Road, using a wood road just north of the erosion area and possibly connecting it to Route 156 just west of the present intersection. The road runs in back of a few homes near the intersection, creating a need to seek easements from property owners.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Ann Power's picture

Why

Since this has been an issue for decades and they had to move a house across the road, and they no longer farm the field, and you had that road torn all up to lessen the curve there you see, there is nothing on the otherside of the road move Farrin Borthers parking lot and move the road, This just shows how short sighted they are or wait a minute could it be job security?

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