NEWRY — If voters in March approve money to rebuild a section of Sunday River Road, construction would likely happen next summer, town officials and residents learned at Tuesday night’s public hearing.
The project is estimated to cost between $300,000 and $320,000.
Engineer Joe Aloisio’s concept design is for 1,200 feet near the Nordic Knoll subdivision and Letter S swimming hole.
The plan includes eliminating the hill and providing a few hundred feet of parking along the right side of the road away from the river for the popular site.
“If we cut the hill that’s in that road — the rise — out, we would be able to develop a road that’s 9.9 percent (grade), and there was a desire to have it less than 10 percent,” Aloisio said.
“It would be helpful to raise the bottom of the road, but we will not be able to do that because of its proximity to the river by raising and widening it and pushing it into the river, and that’s not acceptable. So we’ll end up moving quite a bit of material.”
He said they need to not change the top of the road because of the entrance of Nordic Knoll. People there want it left at its current elevation because of the steepness of Nordic Knoll itself. He said they didn’t want that made any worse by lowering Sunday River Road.
“So, with those two kind of fixed points, we have a virtual straight line between them at 9.9 percent,” Aloisio said.
Currently, the grade going up the hill is about 15 percent in the first rise.
He is proposing an 18-foot-wide travel way with unpaved shoulders 2 feet wide. Down at the Letter S area, the plan is to widen the pavement on the right side by 8 feet for about 200 feet to allow for parking on that side of the road.
“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to have the crown of the road, such that it is, right in that area, crowned away from the river and into the ditch that will be graded on that right side of the road to help with the winter sand going into the ditch where it can at least be swept up and prevented from going directly into the river,” Aloisio said.
Additionally, he recommended that Newry replace the Eames Brook culvert, which is deteriorating. There are a number of gaps in some of the joints and the ribbing is crushed at both ends, he said.
“This will be a great time to replace that culvert, because the pavement will be removed,” Aloisio said.
Selectman Brooks Morton asked Aloisio about the longevity of a steel culvert versus a concrete box culvert, and costs.
Aloisio said the box culvert would last longer but cost more.
“Forty years for a box culvert is not unheard of, but steel culverts are 20 years,” Aloisio said.
He said he needed to do more research, but is assuming that a round as opposed to an elliptical culvert would be better.
Answering another question, Aloisio said the new project will start from where the last one ended, where there is a break in the pavement. It will go from there up to Nordic Knoll.
The parking area will go 200 feet back from the Eames Brook culvert.
When asked why the town wants to reconstruct 1,200 feet of Sunday River Road there, Aloisio said the road “is quite deteriorated.”
Additionally, he said that in the winter, it’s very difficult to keep the road clear of snow “and therefore, safe to drive,” beacuse of the deteriorated pavement.
“This would lessen the grade, and therefore, make it easier,” he said.
Aloisio estimated the reconstruction work, which includes excavating a rough estimate of 5,000 yards of material, to take a month. Traffic would only be allowed during weekends so work is not hampered.
Aloisio suggested that loggers should avoid moving wood while the road is being rebuilt. He also suggested not paving it right away to reduce the costs of pavement and to allow traffic to further compact the road.
A pullout beside the road will be removed, because the road will be lowered eight feet. Due to the steepness of the road, riprap will be used to line new ditches while crushed stone and pipes will be placed under the road to allow for groundwater flow.