BUCKFIELD — The town has been awarded a $95,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to help pay for a new culvert bridge on Shedd Hollow Road to improve passage for fish.

The DEP released the third and final round of grants from the Clean Water for Maine bond, which assists with stream crossing projects and culvert upgrades. The bond was approved by voters in 2014.

Town Manager Cindy Dunn announced the award at a recent selectmen meeting.

She said that over the past few months, she worked with Ferg Lea of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments and Jeff Stearns of the Androscoggin River Watershed Council on the grant.

The culvert is one-quarter mile from Brock School Road and 700 feet from Darnit Road and spans the Darnit Brook, and is a tributary to the west branch of the Nezinscot River, according to the grant application. The culvert was installed in September 2001.

In 2013, the state Department of Transportation Bridge Inspection Report rated the culvert in poor condition. There are holes scattered throughout the bottom of the structure and the inlet plates are bent inward.

“The culvert bridge has become unsafe for pedestrian and vehicular traffic due to continuous erosion over and around the culvert,” Dunn wrote in the application.

In the past 10 years, the town has spent roughly $15,000 on repairs.

Darnit Brook is home to brook and brown trout, creek chub and blacknose dace.

The culvert has become a barrier to fish because of its poor condition, according to Alex Abbott, who maps barrier sites in Maine for U.S. Fish & Wildlife.

The culvert bridge is a pipe arch 50 feet long, 13 feet wide and 8 feet high. It will be replaced with a bridge 34 feet long, 22 feet wide and 10 feet high.

“Because of climate change, we are getting more intense storms,” he said. “We want to make sure the culvert lasts so it’s a larger structure than before … to accommodate higher flow,” said Bill Laflamme, environmental specialist for the DEP.

The project is estimated to cost between $180,000 and $200,000.

“We’re not done yet — we have this $95,000,” Dunn told selectmen. “There are a couple of other sources I want to go to see if we can get a little more (grant) money because this stream has been determined a brook trout habitat.”

Preliminary design plans have been completed. Construction is tentatively planned from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30.

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The culvert bridge that spans the Darnit Brook in Buckfield is slated to be replaced with a larger bridge, as the town was awarded a $95,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to help with the stream-crossing project.


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