GREENVILLE, Maine — Broken motor vehicle parts are beginning to outpace the number of dead animal carcasses along Route 15, part of the Moosehead Trail.
The ditches on the major thoroughfare to the Moosehead Lake region tell the tale of road conditions so bad that motorists have lost tailgates, tires and snowmobile trailers, according to town officials.
The Route 15 road conditions are such a sore spot for residents that Greenville town officials signed a resolution Wednesday demanding that the Maine Department of Transportation schedule improvements by 2013.
In addition, selectmen are collecting signatures on a petition through Labor Day for the improvements. They also are asking Piscataquis County commissioners and other towns in the county to adopt a similar resolution, and they are urging organizations and businesses to send letters to the DOT to help expedite the road improvements.
“The road conditions are unsafe. It discourages tourism, causes vehicle damage and discourages commercial investment,” Greenville Town Manager John Simko said Thursday.
The section of road that concerns residents begins on outer Elm Street in Guilford, continues to Greenville and ends at the intersection of U.S. Route 201 in Jackman. The road is the only public way in and out of the Moosehead Lake region, the town manager pointed out.
A section of the road from the DOT’s rest area south of Greenville to the Route 201 intersection in Jackman is a state-designated Scenic Byway, yet its condition routinely results in damage to vehicles such as passenger cars, motor homes, dump trucks and log trucks, and it hinders winter maintenance, selectmen said in the resolution.
“We hear people regularly in the town office complaining about this,” Simko said. “I know as an EMT traveling over that road in an ambulance, that if the patient doesn’t have a backache, he or she will by the time they’re done. It’s just the nature of the road.”
Craig Watt of Indian Hill Trading Post and Supermarket once told Simko in a letter that there is the expectation that a certain percentage of goods will be broken once they arrive at the store because of the road conditions.
What really made blood boil in the region is that Route 15 was nowhere to be found on the state’s list of road projects released earlier this year for stimulus funding.
Simko said he met with DOT Commissioner David Cole after the list was published to discuss the road’s condition. He said Cole suggested it was possible that the stimulus funds may free up some state money for road projects.
“We want to make sure this area, which has been underrepresented in investment by the DOT, become[s] a priority,” Simko said.
Herb Thompson, the DOT spokesman, said Friday there are many roads statewide that need road improvement treatments of one sort of another. He said the state is doing everything it can with the funding it has to conduct capital improvements.
“In the meantime, we continue to perform more interim maintenance treatments that will help preserve the roadways in a drivable condition until we can get to them and funding becomes available to do more.” Thompson said.