Chesterville Selectmen approved $33,000 for preliminary work on the Sandy River Road project. Severely undersized culverts that easily clog with debris make this site highly susceptible to failure during a flood event. Submitted photo

CHESTERVILLE — Selectmen Thursday, April 16, voted to spend $33,000 for Main-Land Development Consultants, Inc. of Livermore Falls to complete preliminary work on a Sandy River Road project. When the annual Town Meeting is held, voters will also have to approve funding from the town under capital roads projects.

Both culverts on the Sandy River Road will be replaced with a substantially larger capacity, open bottom structure spanning the stream. Designed to handle 100 year flood peak flows, the proposed structure is a corrugated aluminum box culvert with a span of 21+ feet.

The estimated cost of the project is $307,800.

Preliminary funding has been approved for a Sandy River Road project in Chesterville. Insecure guardrails and steep, inadequate road shoulders that regularly wash make this roadway hazardous. Submitted photo

The 30 Mile River Watershed Association has been awarded two grants to help fund the project:

• $95,000 grant provided by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for Stream Crossing Public Infrastructure Improvements Projects

• $80,000 grant provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.

The funding is administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in partnership with EPA.

The Town of Chesterville will need to provide the remainder of the matching funds for the projects, estimated to be $132,800.

Main-Land will complete all engineering and design work, obtain necessary permits and oversee the bid process for the project.

Executive Director 30 Mile River Watershed Lidie Robbins and Eric Labelle from Main-Land attended the Zoom meeting to answer Selectmen’s questions.

Robbins was asked if it would be possible to extend the grants a year given that Chesterville has had to postpone the annual Town Meeting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She said that could probably happen.

Robbins and Selectmen had planned to explain the need for the project when funding for capital roads was

Preliminary funding has been approved for a Sandy River Road project in Chesterville. Insecure guardrails and steep, inadequate road shoulders that regularly wash make this roadway hazardous. Grant moneys will cover part of the costs should Chesterville voters approve the project at the annual Town Meeting. Submitted photo

discussed at the Town Meeting. Details of this one-time, time-limited grant funding opportunity were to be shared then.

Selectman Allan Mackey wondered if approving the funding prior to voter approval at that meeting was premature.

Robbins said if voters turned it down this year, getting an extension on the grants and trying again next year was an option.

“The worst case scenario, if voted down two years, the project is totally off the table, we’ve already drawn down some of the grant money to pay for these costs,” she said. “We don’t have to return that money.

“It would be a waste.”

Mackey said projected tax intake will probably be significantly less this year.

“People are looking at the numbers,” he said. “They may have real issues with it this year.”

Mackey noted Selectmen Edward Hastings IV and Tiffany Estabrook weren’t at the meeting. Also, Selectman Matthew Welch and Mackey are serving under unusual circumstances (Town elections haven’t been held yet to replace board members who aren’t seeking reelection or had indicated they would be vacating their seats once elections were held).

Robbins said some of the $33,000 could be reimbursed through grant funding.

“The town would need to pay up front,” she said. “Those costs could be part of what’s reimbursed or town funding could go towards construction costs later on.”

Labelle said approving the initial costs now would allow Main-Land to get the preliminary work done in time to get the project in this year’s construction season, provide options.

“Contractor firms may want the work now, may want to wait a year,” he said. “They may give a better price next year.

“Maine Department of Transportation will want to weigh in on the project since they will have the responsibility of maintenance.”

He noted DOT is changing their approach, making some changes on culverts of more than 20 feet in size, requiring additional calculations.

Selectman John Archer said he was in favor of moving ahead with the engineering part of the project to get things started.

Prior to the unanimous vote Mackey said he was good with moving forward.

Selectmen also voted to maintain the town office closure until May 7. The office has been closed since March 18 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The board will revisit the situation at the meeting that evening.

In other business the board approved the only bid received for mowing all areas at the town office, cemeteries, veterans’ monument and the triangle. Michael Webber of Livermore Falls, bid $5,000 for the work. Last year he did the work for the same amount.

No bids were received for maintenance of the E.A. Wright beach on Sand Pond.

Problems with culvert:

1. Hazardous for the public: Inadequate road shoulders erode away easily and prevent proper construction of guardrails at this crossing. Much of the foundation materials are remnants of the mill that once stood there, and have surpassed their life expectancy.

2. Undersized to handle floods: The culvert is severely undersized to withstand a 100-year flood. The existing small diameter culvert clogs with debris easily and encourages beaver activity, which has resulted in a second pipe being placed to convey water from behind the beaver dam. With these additional constrictions, this crossing is at a high risk of failure during a flood event.

3. Barrier to fish: Both the Nature Conservancy and the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists have identified this site as a barrier to fish passage and other aquatic organisms.

Benefits:

1. Public safety: The narrow roadway at the culvert presents a significant hazard and liability to the town. The current guardrails are insecure and the sides of the road continually wash out. At times, large sinkholes have developed that would seriously damage a vehicle or cause an accident if two cars are crossing in opposite directions at the same time.

2. Public infrastructure: The Sandy River Road is a main access route north to Farmington, south to Mt. Vernon/Augusta and west to Livermore Falls, used by not only residents of the road but many other nearby residents.

3. Protecting the tax base: Both the road and the culvert contribute large amounts of polluted runoff into Parker Pond every year. This site is likely the largest polluter to the lake. Protecting water quality in Parker Pond protects property values and therefore the tax base.

Bottom line:

• The opportunity to complete these projects with significant grant funding will likely never come again.

• Experts estimate that this culvert will fail, collapse, or totally washout within the next one-three years. If the project is not completed now with grant funds, it will need to be done in the near future using town moneys.

 

 

 


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