FORT KENT, Maine — It was supposed to be a project measured in weeks, not months, but it now looks like the repaving of Fort Kent’s East and West Main streets will ultimately take a year.
Six hundred tons of newly laid asphalt has failed to meet Maine Department of Transportation specifications and will need to be removed and replaced.
“The final completion of this project will not be until next year,” Don Guimond, Fort Kent town manager, told the Town Council during its Tuesday night meeting. “Four-hundred fifty tons has to come up off West Main Street and another 150 tons of East Main Street needs to be removed and resurfaced.”
In what transportation officials earlier this summer termed a basic “mill and fill” project, the ongoing resurfacing project called for grinding and removing the top inch to inch-and-a-half of the road and replacing that with new asphalt from the intersection of East Main and Market streets to the International Bridge on West Main Street, a distance of about a mile.
Northern Paving, Inc., of Limestone began the Maine Department of Transportation project in June with an initial completion date of July 30.
The contractor is currently working to complete enough of the project to get the stretch of road winter-ready, Guimond said.
“They are working now on driveway aprons and intersection-type work,” Guimond said, adding crews will be painting the lane lines next week, weather permitting.
Weather has been a big factor in this year’s construction season and on Wednesday, Ryan Pelletier, project manager for Northern Maine Paving, said the above average rainfall in Aroostook County caused numerous delays and “moisture issues” with the aggregate materials used for the resurfacing.
Pelletier said the $324,000 project is experiencing cost overruns that will be born by his company, but declined to disclose the specific dollar amount.
“They are pretty extensive,” he said.
The 600 tons of asphalt in question failed to meet “density and high-air void specifications,” Bill Pulver, assistant director for the MDOT’s bureau of project development, said.
“This has to be removed because experience has shown the pavement would not perform as it should over time,” Pulver said.
Among the potential issues are dangers of developing ruts, cracking and portions of the asphalt rising, all of which would require MDOT maintenance, Pulver said.
Pulver said he is confident Pelletier’s crew will work out the specification issues and have the problem resolved by next year.
“This is not an uncommon occurrence,” Pulver said. “This is a new company with a new plant and it will take some time for them to get the formulas dialed in.”
Northern Paving had been manufacturing its asphalt at a plant in St. Agatha but on Wednesday, Pelletier said they are looking “for a different source of the aggregate materials with the right mix” before next summer.
Pelletier also noted his company has laid down more than 50,000 tons of pavement and asphalt in completing resurfacing projects throughout Aroostook County from Van Buren to Allagash this summer and most have successfully met the DOT standards.
“It is unfortunate Fort Kent has not met the specifications,” he said. “We are committed to continue to work to replace the surface with what is needed.”
Guimond said he has recommended the work take place in the middle of June, 2012, so it is completed before the July 4 holiday and subsequent town festivals.
The town manager added he may suggest some of the work take place at night to mitigate business hour traffic concerns.
“Our objective is to minimize the impact on the business community so life can return to normal,” Guimond said.
“We are looking at a one-week project,” Pelletier said. “We will grind down an inch-and-a-half, come up behind and resurface and life will be good.”
The project manager said he is aware of the effect the delays have had on drivers in Fort Kent.
“We really appreciate people’s patience,” he said. “We did not expect these huge delays [and] we are committed to getting it 100 percent done.”