FARMINGTON — Selectmen voted Thursday to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service enterprise unit to provide design and construction oversight of a riverbank stabilization project by Whittier Road, Town Manager Richard Davis said Friday.

Davis said the cost for this portion of the project is $44,307, adding, “We are trying to squeeze it out of the Public Works Department budget.”

The unit would work with the town to modify existing designs, provide assistance with Endangered Species Act biological assessment consultation, provide specifications and recommendation of the construction package and project oversight for July to September construction, the agreement states.

For more than a year, the town has worked on trying to get the bank along the Sandy River stabilized before a portion of the Whittier Road collapses. Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 caused the riverbank to erode and the river encroached on the road. The town has kept a close eye on erosion and posted the road-to-weight limits last year and shut down one lane of the road for a time.

The agreement states the unit will submit the final design by June 7. It will submit portions of the design throughout May to get feedback from the town, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Construction is expected to begin on July 29 and conclude on Aug. 9.

A rough estimate of the construction portion of a log structure and stream bank toe stabilization and related work is $300,000, Davis said. They won’t know the cost until the project goes out to bid, he said.

The town is hoping to get a FEMA grant to pay for 75 percent of the project. The town will pay about $80,000 into the project, including the $44,307 approved Thursday during the special Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

It is unknown if the $44,307 will be allowed to be used as part of the town’s match, Davis said, due to concerns brought up about using federal money to pay a federal unit.

If the money cannot be used, there is a provision in state law that would allow the Public Works Department budget to be overdrafted by 15 percent, Davis said. There is also a process to use money from the town’s undesignated fund.

Discussion was also held to develop a long-term plan to address bank erosion by cutting a channel through a peninsula to change direction of the river.

There was also talk during the meeting to develop a comprehensive management plan for the Sandy River, he said. The Sandy River is 73.3 miles long, beginning in Sandy River Plantation and discharging into the Kennebec River in Norridgewock.

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