Sangerville officials at odds over road work

Posted Sept. 03, 2010, at 9:24 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

SANGERVILLE, Maine — Sangerville selectmen accepted the lowest bid Thursday for 1 mile of road work on Knowlton’s Mills Road and another half-mile section on Burrough’s Road despite the opposition of a local committee.

Farrin Brothers & Smith of Athens, one of three firms that bid on the project, was awarded a contract for $89,999. The town will supply the fabric for the project on the gravel roads at an additional cost of about $11,550.

“We were very, very pleased with the numbers that came in,” Sangerville Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin said Friday of the bids, which were all in the same ballpark. The project will begin Tuesday.

The move to bid the project out and to do just two projects was not well received by some members of the local road committee. Melissa Randall said Friday that the committee wanted the town to stretch the $118,000 capital road improvement funds as much as possible by having the town crew and local contractors do as much of the work as possible, rather than solicit bids for the entire project.

“The board has always agreed … that the project should go out to bid, and the purpose of that was to ensure that it was a fair process for everyone,” Dumoulin said. Eleven contractors attended a pre-bid conference, she said.

The road committee spent about two months discussing the road work, and its recommendations changed frequently, Dumoulin said. With cold weather approaching, a decision needed to be made, she said.

After residents raised some issues regarding the right of way and the ownership of the trees in the ditch area on those two roads, Dumoulin said, town officials reached out to them and sought advice from the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Department of Transportation’s Maine Local Roads Center and Phil Curtis, Somerset County’s road consultant.

Curtis recommended, and the selectmen agreed, that the project should include grading the length of the roads to get the right pitch, laying a fabric on the entire roadways and using quality gravel on the surface, Dumoulin said. Normally, the town just lays a roll of fabric down the center of a gravel road, she said.

“What we learned is that you really need fabric from shoulder to shoulder,” she said.

Randall, of French’s Mills Road, said there are other roads that are used more and are more in need of repair than Burrough’s Road and Knowlton’s Mills Road, which lead to “nowhere.” She said Grant Road residents have complained for months about the condition of their road, without success.

Rather than build the two roads up to “Golden Road” standards for tractor-trailer use, Randall said the town could have done a cheaper project with town labor and equipment, which would have allowed more roads to be addressed. If it spends this much money on the gravel roads, then the town will never get to repair or replace its paved roads, she said.

But Dumoulin said if the roadwork is done correctly, it will last a long time.

“We really haven’t built a road to these standards in the past,” she said. “This road [Knowlton’s Mills Road] is supposed to last us 20 years with proper maintenance, and that maintenance will be grading and calcium. And that really should be standard on every road.”

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