CARMEL, Maine — A crumbling and cratered patch of U.S. Route 2 in the Carmel area has been identified by the LePage administration as a priority for rehabilitation, which is welcome news to town officials who erected signs in January calling on motorists to complain.
LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday that 5.6 miles of roadway between Damascus Road in Carmel and Black Stream Road in Hermon is proposed for major rehabilitation in the summer of 2012. That work is in addition to other work scheduled for this summer and the summer of 2013, which in total will fix more than 13 miles of Route 2. These projects are part of a wider road work proposal for the entire state that will be released Wednesday during a press conference in Augusta.
Carmel Town Manager Tom Richmond erected signs along the stretch of Route 2 in January telling motorists that if they didn’t like the condition of the road, to call LePage or the commissioner of the Department of Transportation, the phone numbers for whom were printed on the signs. Richmond said Tuesday that because of the DOT’s aggressive response to the problem, he was having the signs taken down.
“I’m overjoyed that they’re going to take this problem [seriously] and do something to correct the road,” he said. “I think all the phone calls, letters and concern from the public has made them aware of the safety concerns about this road. I’m just thankful that no one has gotten hurt out there.”
Richmond said crews have been in the area more than once in recent months to patch potholes and that three DOT representatives met with approximately 120 concerned citizens in late March to discuss the problem.
“The DOT’s response has been great,” said Richmond.
Demeritt and Mark Latti, a spokesman for the DOT, said dozens of letters and phone calls have been received since the signs were put up.
“We’ve heard from a lot of people and we’re going to respond,” said Demeritt.
Demeritt would not discuss the details or overall numbers associated with the 2012-13 biennial work plan until Wednesday’s press conference, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the governor’s Cabinet Room. He did say that the plan includes no borrowing and that it will accomplish “the same amount of work as past years for 12 percent less spending.” The governor’s highway budget proposal includes eliminating the state gas tax in 2013 and dedicating $20 million in General Fund revenues to the Highway Fund. The plan is contingent on legislative approval and depends on revenue from state and federal sources.
“The administration is going to work with the Legislature and our federal partners to fund this plan,” said Demeritt. “We’re building things based on Maine’s rural nature using the appropriate standards based on the needs of each project. We’re proposing to do whatever we need to get by and make things work. The message we’ll have on Wednesday is that we’re taking the austerity approach.”
John Devin, an engineer for the DOT’s eastern region, said a 4.58-mile portion of the work will be done in Hermon around August of this year. Another 8.7 miles will be done over the next two years. Devin said the DOT plans to use about 3 inches of a resurfacing material known as plant-mixed recycled asphalt pavement, which should last for at least 10 years.
“Is it the same as completely reconstructing the road? No,” said Devin. “But this is a significant improvement. We have too many roads in Maine in the same situation, and we don’t like it. It all comes down to constraints on resources.”