Newry board fields concerns about condition of Sunday River Road

NEWRY — Four residents sought information and offered advice Tuesday night during an informational meeting on reconstructing 1,200 feet of Sunday River Road.

The project, estimated to cost between $300,000 and $320,000, was proposed in October by Main-Land Development Consultants of Livermore Falls at the request of selectmen.

The town would like to have an engineering study done, which could cost as much as $50,000, to ensure that the project is done correctly due to issues with water runoff, Selectmen and Code Enforcement Officer David Bonney said.

"Rather than just hire someone to do the hill, this project should be engineered," Selectman Brooks Morton said.

Work needs to be done from near the Nordic Knoll private road intersection with Sunday River Road to a section where the town previously removed ledge adjacent to new pavement. It includes the Letter S swimming hole, a section of the Sunday River where people park on both sides of the road.

The issue there, Bonney said, is that the town's only right of way is 50 feet wide. That's the width of the road and shoulders. Morton said town land only includes the road.

Newry would have to get a permanent easement along the road from C&L Properties, Sunday River Ski Resort's landholding company, to add space for parking, Morton said.

Nordic Knoll road residents David Walker and Nancy Babcock said the Letter S section is very deteriorated and needs work.

"Nordic Knoll to the Letter S hill clearly needs help," Walker said. "It hasn't been paved in 40 or 50 years and it's just little pieces of asphalt put together and it looks like alligator skin in the spring, just walking on it, up and down."

He said the section also has "quite a few large rocks just popping up through the pavement."

"Those are issues that would need to be dealt with prior to resurfacing it," Walker said.

Babcock, who rides a bicycle on that stretch, equated the experience to riding through a minefield. The chunks of asphalt could cause a mishap.

Walker said the road also doesn't meet town standards regarding grade.

"The contractors that the town hires, their trucks have slid down that hill," he said. "I recall one of those plow trucks halfway into the Letter S. It would behoove the town to look at changing the angle of that hill."

However, he said that either cutting from the top or bottom or in between could be either good or bad depending on how it's done.

He suggested pulling a section down from a bit of a break in the road and raising the bottom maybe a foot.

"One of the problems that happens if you cut off the top in the blind spot, two things will happen," Walker said. "One, people will go a lot faster, because right now, people can't see over the top and so they naturally slow down.

"The other problem if you pull that down is that you make the intersection into Nordic Knoll much more dangerous," he said. "Nordic Knoll comes down and has to stop before making that turn and if you decrease the hill, Nordic Knoll is going to get much more steep and, under icy winter conditions, you're apt to slide into the intersection, and that's not good," he said.

Regarding Letter S parking, Walker said he's counted 50 people there at one time during the summer. The swimming area is a valuable resource for the recreation community, he said, and something should be done to optimize parking safety.

Fire Chief and resident Bruce Pierce said he has concerns about drivers coming off Monkey Brook Road onto Sunday River Road. The crown in the road is a steep pitch to the inside.

"That corner is deadly," he said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Wendy Hanscom said the board will review the matter further at its next meeting and decide if the project should be put out to bid as Morton suggested. But before that could happen, the project must go before town meeting voters in March, Hanscom said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

During Tuesday night's public informational meeting, Newry Selectmen Gary Wight, left, and Chairman Wendy Hanscom, right, listen as Selectman Brooks Morton answers a question about the proposed reconstruction of 1,200 feet of Sunday River Road.

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Phil Blampied's picture

More on the relationship between Sunday River and Newry

How does Sunday River, bringing a half million people into the area, fit into a small town like Newry?

That's the question in a segment in the most recent program of Today River Valley, viewable at: http://www.todayrivervalley.com

Today River Valley is the video news magazine covering Newry and nearby towns in the upper Androscoggin River Valley.

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