CHESTERVILLE — A bypass on the George Thomas Road opened this week after two years of planning and about two months of construction.
A new entrance to the road is farther south of Farmington Falls on Route 41, Chesterville Road Foreman Patrick McHugh said. A new sign is ordered for the entrance.
George Thomas Road started from Route 41 in Farmington Falls. It goes through a portion of Chesterville and on to New Sharon ending near the Cape Cod Hill School.
Selectmen are considering a name change for the former start of the road that now comes to a dead end at the riverbank collapse.
About 162 feet of the road dropped down 35 feet toward the Sandy River on May 6, 2010.
The town also created a new driveway for a resident who lives across from the sliding riverbank, McHugh said.
The road was closed to traffic the first summer, causing golfers visiting the Sandy River Golf Course to make a six-mile detour to reach the greens just beyond the slide.
Now the road comes out at the sixth green, Tim Megan said Thursday as he manned the clubhouse. Megan, his wife, Pam, and Charles and JoAnn Majka purchased the golf course in October 2010.
"It's a fantastic job," Megan said of the newly paved two-lane road.
A golf course member for 12 years, John Rollo of New Vineyard voiced his approval of the new section of road as he arrived for a few rounds of golf Thursday.
Other customers are just as pleased and are finding their way along the new section of road, Megan said.
For Norm Vashon, who works at the golf course and lives on the now dead-end portion of the road, said the bypass means an extra quarter mile around but he's not complaining.
Permanent Jersey barriers are erected on both sides of the slide to stop all vehicles.
By late summer of 2010, the town opened a one-lane path around the slide site but officials realized any repair work could be in vain if a similar slide occurred along the ever-changing river.
After months of engineering studies, soil sampling and test boring, town officials determined purchasing land and building a bypass was the best solution.
The town applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and received about $225,000, McHugh said. The town was responsible for about 25 percent of the project cost but use of materials from the town's own gravel pit helped.
Dirigo Engineering came up with a plan for the 1,400-foot bypass road and to secure all the permits for a travel path through wetlands.
Plans included special placement of a couple of culverts to provide a way for salamanders to cross safely, he said.
"Getting all the permits and DEP in agreement for the use of wetlands was a major task," he said.
Jordan Lumber of Kingfield was awarded the job and construction took about two months.