Harpswell to temporarily close road for culvert repair

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HARPSWELL — The Board of Selectmen avoided doubling costs for a culvert repair project by opting to close a residential road for three days later this year.

But as Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said, that could be a problem for residents who live on that portion of Bethel Point Road.

Repairs of the culvert were deemed necessary last fall when the Maine Department of Transportation determined it was deficient, according to a memo from Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers.

Though smaller repairs were initially planned, the memo said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggested replacing the entire culvert would have a smaller environmental impact, so Gorrill-Palmer decided to take that option.

The challenge in replacing the entire culvert, however, is the road will have to be closed for three days to complete the project. There will, however, be pedestrian access.

The project will cost around $175,000, according to Gorrill-Palmer, but could have doubled if the Board of Selectmen decided to keep the road open, which would have caused the project to last three to four weeks.

Since unanimously deciding Jan. 10 on the cheaper, but more restrictive route, the board now must wait for permit approval from the Army Corps and then a bid process for a contractor to do the culvert work.

Until that happens, the expected three-day road closure can’t be scheduled.

Once all the information and permits are in hand, Eiane said, “we will have a community meeting for the people out there who will be affected.”

She said the town already held a meeting last fall for Bethel Point Road residents, and their “preference was not to close the road,” though they reportedly said weekends were preferred.

“The selectmen weren’t willing to double the cost of the project,” Eiane said, which could have amounted to around $400,000. “Hopefully we can address those issues without incident.”

One of the issues the town will consider is how to ensure safety for the residents. 

Eiane said the town will coordinate with police and fire departments to ensure residents will have access to those services during the road’s closure. That may result in leaving a fire truck on the closed side of the road.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.