The new culvert installed on the Sandy River Road in Chesterville last fall will reduce runoff and improve water quality. Submitted photo

CHESTERVILLE — The Sandy River Road project is complete and has been recognized as the biggest of its kind in the state.

The culvert replacement project on the Sandy River Road at the outlet of David Pond where it flows into Parker Pond was completed in November, according to Lidie Robbins, executive director of 30 Mile River Watershed Association.

Because of COVID-19, new Chesterville selectpersons were not elected until June 2020.

“The previous board worked with The Thirty Mile River Watershed Association to secure grants to replace the David Pond Outlet Culvert,” Linda Bauer, one of the new board members wrote in the town’s annual report. “During their extended time as our select board, they voted to move forward with the grant and to hire Main-Land Development Consultants to design the culvert. Thus, the David Pond Outlet Culvert Replacement Project (more commonly referred to as the “Sandy River Road Project”) was born.”

Grants obtained initially for the project were:

• $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.

A culvert on Sandy River Road in Chesterville negatively impacted water quality, water flow, fish passage and public safety. With town and grant funding, the culvert was replaced in 2020. File photo

The Sandy River Road stream crossing was identified in 2011 during 30 Mile’s Parker Pond Watershed Survey as being one of the biggest erosion threats to Parker Pond’s water quality, Robbins noted. The road sat atop the 200+ year-old remains of the saw and grist mill, with a 3-foot culvert embedded in it, Robbins noted.

Concerns about the site included:

• Water quality impacts due to the eroding banks and crumbling roadway

• Barrier for fish passage

• Insufficient culvert size to handle high flows, making a washout or total failure likely

• Public safety

“The Sandy River Road Project got started much later than it should have causing the new board to really scramble to get up to speed,” according to Bauer’s report. “The grants were already established, the project dates were set with a July 2020 start date, and the entire project had to be completed and ready for final payment by October 30, 2020.”

“The new open bottom aluminum culvert spans 22 feet, is 38 feet long, and will handle 100-year peak flows,” Robbins noted. “It will benefit Parker Pond’s water quality, improve habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, ensure public safety and provide a much-improved road for the town.

“Connected to this project, a second project on the Sandy River Road was completed last fall with support of additional grant funding awarded to 30 Mile from the DEP,” she continued. “The road on both sides of the culvert now has new ditches, rock check dams, rip-rapped plunge pools, and a new paved and crowned road surface, all best practices to help manage the high levels of water flowing down both hills to the stream.”

The entire project cost $320,276. Grants covered $212,500 with Chesterville funding the remaining $107,776, Bauer said in an April 9 email.

As part of the project, Chesterville had an additional 50 feet of the road paved.

“We reclaimed and fine graded from the town line of Fayette to the new pavement just beyond Diller Line Road (in total 2660 feet, which does not include the 155 feet over the culvert project),” Bauer wrote in her email. “Total cost was $72,891.70. Grant reimbursement amount designated for roads was $37,500.”

The original project design called for removing all the stones from the old saw and grist mill, she wrote.

“After speaking about the plans with the surrounding land owners, we decided on a design change to keep a portion of the stones from the mill in place thereby preserving some of the history,” Bauer wrote. “We also took a large stone from the mill and made a bench facing the water. There were also some minor ditching, drainage and culvert changes based on terrain. These changes were made to help to maintain a free flow of water; to keep it off the road.”

Since completion there has been a lot of cold weather and snow, Bauer noted in her email.

“Just a glimpse of the new culvert and road prior to winter showed it to be beautiful and somehow peaceful, listening to the water flow,” she continued. “I am looking forward to some warmer weather spent down on the stone bench, in the sun, reading and listening to the water flowing. It truly is a great looking project and is sure to be a lasting memorial to what a town working together can accomplish. It has been said to be one of the largest culvert projects of its kind in the state of Maine. I have even heard that awards have been discussed.”

Getting water off Sandy River Road and allowing it to infiltrate greatly reduces pollution into Parker Pond and protects water quality.

Through this project, the board learned a lot about the process, teamwork, saved the town a ton of money and got a beautiful new culvert, Bauer wrote in the town report.

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