FARMINGTON – Residents will have the chance to take the first step toward making downtown roads passable again this Tuesday, at a special town meeting scheduled for 7 p.m.

The middle section of both Upper and Lower Broadway have been closed to traffic since July, after two sinkholes opened on Lower Broadway following a heavy rain storm. After a brief investigation, town officials learned a 30-inch aluminum drain pipe had corroded.

On Tuesday night, selectmen plan to ask voters for authorization to take as much as $250,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to pay for repairs. After getting the OK to spend the money, Town Manager Richard Davis said, he and other town officials will put the job out to bid.

Town officials closed 1,500 feet of Broadway over the pipe, leaving the road open on either side of where the pipe is located, underground, near the center of the road.

But even after taking those measures, more cracks are opening on the road, he said Friday.

“It’s important to do this project as soon as possible,” Davis said. “I’ve noticed little cracks developing on the roadway.”

The corroded pipe also may have caused the town another problem, Davis said. Water was backing up inside a building bordering Lower Broadway this week. When the drain pipe was looked at, town officials found that the pipe was not connected to anything – hence, the backup.

The pipe probably used to be connected to the corroded one, Davis surmised.

In all, the corroded pipe will end up costing the town hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s not considering the hardship and annoyance caused to residents.

“Maybe we’ll be able to look back sometime and laugh about this,” Davis said. But not now.

At first, selectmen considered lining the corroded pipe with a smaller one – a fix that would be faster and slightly less disruptive than digging up the road and replacing the entire pipe. But they learned a smaller width of pipe might not have the capacity to carry the volume of water that flows through the line.

Now, Davis said, the town’s only real option is to replace the whole length of pipe.

“It’s unfortunate this event had to occur,” Selectman Dennis Pike said Friday. “We have to act as expeditiously as possible, for the citizens’ welfare as well as the local businesses.”

The special town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, and will be held in the downstairs meeting room at the Municipal Building.

Selectmen Tuesday also will discuss replacing Mark Cayer, the selectman who resigned his post earlier this month because he plans to move out of town. State statute demands the town hold a formal election to find a new selectman.

The board will probably operate temporarily with only four members, until a fifth selectman can be elected during the regular November election, Pike said. “That would be the most prudent way to proceed,” he said.

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