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BRUNSWICK — The cost to repair roads damaged by a severe rain storm Aug. 13. could be at least $100,000, according to interim Town Manager John Eldridge.
River, Raymond, Collingsbrook and Hacker roads were seriously damaged by the storm, which dropped as much as 6 inches of water on towns and cities in Cumberland County in just a few hours.
A failed culvert on Raymond Road left a deep trench across the entire width of the road, briefly cutting off traffic between Pleasant Hill and Church roads. Another failed culvert destroyed close to half of River Road at the bottom of Rocky Hill, restricting traffic to one lane.
All roads have now been temporarily repaired and are open to traffic, but it is uncertain how much permanent repairs will cost and how long it might take to complete them.
The temporary repairs won’t stand up to another big storm, so the town needs to put permanent repairs in place as soon as it can, Town Engineer John Foster said Wednesday.
Replacement pipes installed inside the existing culverts are only half the normal size, Foster said. If another punishing rain storm hits before permanent fixes, water will back up in the smaller pipes, threatening to wash away roads entirely, he warned.
“We are certainly very concerned and will need to be very cautious if we get another moderate-to-serious rain event,” Foster said.
Most of the damage was due to the severity of the storm, rather than the age of the culverts, Foster said. At least two of the culverts that failed were less than 20 years old, about half of their expected lifespan.
At the same time, its unknown where other weak points may be in the town’s system in the case of another historic storm.
Foster said the town isn’t certain where all of its culverts are, or their condition.
Culverts are ordinarily replaced when damage is noticed or during the course of regular road work, Foster said, but the town doesn’t have the staff to conduct annual inspections.
The town hopes to begin permanent repairs in early September, Foster said.
His department has hired an engineering consultant to find the right replacement culverts that can both sustain another powerful storm and conform to environmental regulations that require space for fish and other aquatic animals to pass.
Funding for the repairs will come from the town’s maintenance account, Eldridge said, but depending on how much the fixes cost, the town council may have to appropriate money from its general fund. Replacement culverts alone cost up to $18,000 apiece, he noted.
It is not known if the storm damage was significant enough to qualify for federal disaster aid, Eldridge said, but so far there hasn’t been much talk about declaring an emergency.
Even if the town doesn’t receive any reimbursement, the roads still need to be fixed, he noted.
“We’ll keep track of the costs and obviously if (aid) becomes available to us, we’ll make an application for those funds,” Eldridge said.
A section of River Road at the bottom of Rocky Hill, which was washed out when a culvert failed during intense rain storms Aug. 13. The cost to repair damage to three town roads could be at least $100,000.