FARMINGTON — The Whittier Road project to stabilize a section of riverbank between the road and Sandy River is moving forward, Town Manager Richard Davis told selectmen Tuesday.

The town is continuing negotiations with the U.S. Forest Service to lower the costs on the erosion repair, he said.

For more than a year, the town has worked to get the riverbank stabilized before a section of the Whittier Road collapses. Tropical Storm Irene started a serious erosion problem in August 2011.

The board contracted with the forest service in April to provide design and construction oversight of the riverbank stabilization. The design is ready to go, Davis said.

Bid proposals could go out within the next couple weeks for the rootwad system, he said.

Cost for the work is estimated at $238,000, less than the $300,000 mark needed to keep the town from expending more to meet its 25 percent match on the project. The town is expecting to receive a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to pay for 75 percent of the costs. Those costs are expected to be finalized when the project goes out to bid.

The town has spent $76,000, already meeting the expected match amount. This includes a contract with the U.S. Forest Service for $44,000, he said. The contract funds were expected to come from the Public Works Department’s budget.

The repair, an interweaving of logs and rocks, is expected to be more durable and is acceptable to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he said.

The work needs to start during the low-water period of July 15 to Sept. 15 to get the project done this summer, Davis said.

Monitoring shows more banking was lost during recent rains and high water. There is a big undercut on the bank, which is about 30 feet from a section of the road. When the water rises and then recedes, it takes water and more fine material from the banking, he said.

Along with keeping an eye on the erosion, town officials posted the road-to-weight limits and shut down one lane of the road last year.

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