FARMINGTON — The lower portion of Whittier Road was closed by Tuesday noon as the Sandy River continued to rise rapidly.
After monitoring the eroding riverbank off the Whittier Road all night, town officials decided to close the road, at least temporarily.
"With additional rainfall expected and the river not anticipated to crest until noon Wednesday, we have decided to close the lower end of Whittier Road, at least temporarily. We will reassess the situation once the water recedes," Town Manager Richard Davis said.
Early Tuesday morning Public Works Director Denis Castonguay said Fire Chief Terry Bell and Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Hardy helped him monitor the river bank over most of the night.
The road was safe at that point but town officials were discussing whether to close it temporarily as the river was coming up fast, he said.
Heavy rains during a mid-morning thunder shower added to the rise of the turbulent waters that carried wood and debris along the river bank.
The town has sought an answer to the eroding bank along this portion of the river since last August when Tropical Storm Irene and then spring rains this year wreaked havoc bringing the river to within about 30-feet of the road. The road is monitored with closure expected when it nears 20 feet.
The town did not receive Federal Emergency Management Agency approval to complete the stabilization work this year. The work needed to be done during the low water window of July 15 to Sept. 30.
FEMA did request a biological assessment of the river as part of the review for funding. That is estimated to take six to 12 weeks.
Officials expect the road will collapse and be closed before the stabilization work can be done next spring.