Route 26 construction on hold this week

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OXFORD – Motorists on Route 26 will have a break this week as reconstruction work is shut down for the holiday.

Pike Industries, which has contracted with the Department of Transportation for the project, halted work until July 9 to ensure that expected heavy holiday traffic over July 4 will be able to move smoothly. Once work resumes, officials said they hope to keep both lanes open until the project is finished.

The $1 million project is set to be completed in late July and provide new drainage, guardrails and resurfacing from Fore Street north to the Norway town line.

Town Manager Michael Chammings said motorists have been patient with the project so far despite some traffic backup.

“There have been no complaints,” he said. Motorists are, however, asking when the next section of Route 26, past the Oxford Speedway and beyond, will be repaired.

Chammings said the work from Fore Street south to near the Route 121 intersection has not gone to bid yet. Plans have been drawn up for it but work probably won’t begin until next year.

Meanwhile the town is continuing its own road projects, including one on Industrial Drive, Mill Street, the north end of Number 6 Road, and Pismo and Staples avenues. Village Lane has been reclaimed, but won’t be paved until water pipes are laid.

A sixth project on Allen Hill Road is on hold until the Route 26 project is completed. Chammings said it would be too difficult to try to reconstruct Allen Hill Road, which has been used as a bypass around the Route 26 project by many motorists, until the project is completed.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” said Chammings of the road work that he anticipates will last 20 years instead of the usual five when a simple patch job is done.

Unlike neighboring towns, Oxford saw only about $100,000 in road damage from last spring’s flood and of that amount will receive $90,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The town has also received money from other federal and state agencies for road repairs and uses 100 percent of its local excise tax money for road repair, Chammings said.

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