AUGUSTA, Maine — A handmade sign in Lincolnville warns: “Caution, unfit road ahead.”
A sign shaped like an arrow in the same midcoast area labels a pothole “Death Valley.”
Those are just two of the entrants so far in the Worst Road in Maine Contest sponsored by the Maine Better Transportation Association.
The organization is offering a $250 prize for the photo and-or video of the best “bad road” in the state. It could be a pothole, sinkhole, collapsed bridge, broken pavement or flooded road that has or could cause damage to a vehicle.
The prize is a $250 gift certificate toward repairs, Maria Fuentes, executive director of the association, said in a press release issued Thursday about the contest. Entrants must submit a photo and-or video of nominees and, if possible, their stories about damage to cars and trucks at those locations.
The contest deadline is Tuesday, May 18.
“Bad roads are a major concern for Mainers,” Fuentes said, “and that shows by how fast our fan base has grown over the past few weeks.”
Some stretches of roads, such as Routes 1 and 191 in Washington County, River Road in Windham and Route 115 in Gray, have received multiple nominations, she said.
“We’ve even had people nominate all of the roads in their towns,” Fuentes said. “Our state, in fact, has some of the worst roads and bridges in the region — 26 percent of our federal-aid highways have poor pavement. That’s up from just 5 percent poor pavement in the 1990s.”
The amount of the contest prize was decided after a recent study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups found that Mainers each year pay $250 for extra vehicle repairs because of tires and shock absorbers that are damaged by rough and uneven roads, the press release said.
The association, founded in 1939, advocates for investment in a safe, efficient transportation network, according to information on its website. Originally called the Maine Good Roads Association, it was created to ensure that public money dedicated to highway and bridge improvement was not diverted for other purposes.
Over the years, the group’s mission was broadened to cover other modes of transportation. The association changed its name in 1983 to reflect its concern for a network of roads, bridges, airports, ports, rail, transit and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Contest entries may be submitted by e-mail to FixMaineRoads@mbtaonline.org; through the website www.FixMaineRoads.org; or at the Facebook page www.facebook.com/FixMaineRoads. For information, call 622-0526.