Towns urge MDOT to fix ‘seriously deteriorated’ Route 69

One of the many potholes on Route 69 in Hampden with a patch. The Hampden section of the road is in need of repair.
One of the many potholes on Route 69 in Hampden with a patch. The Hampden section of the road is in need of repair. Buy Photo
Posted Oct. 04, 2012, at 3 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 04, 2012, at 5:15 p.m.

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HAMPDEN, Maine — Although a three-mile section of Route 69 was recently rebuilt and much of the rest of it is scheduled for repaving next year, municipal officials in Hampden, Newburgh and Winterport say it’s not enough.

A letter has been drafted and will be sent to the Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt requesting that the MDOT do more than put a light coat of paving on a primary roadway they say is in “seriously deteriorated condition.”

“I am on that road two to five times a day traveling Route 69, and I am wholeheartedly in favor of making sure they do more than just put a Band-Aid on a compound fracture,” said Councilor Shelby Wright at Monday night’s Hampden Town Council meeting.

Mayor and Councilor Janet Hughes said the reason she chose to draft and sign the letter was her concern for safety.

“A light coat of pavement will not remedy the problems with the road, which range from overly steep crowning in areas to broken pavement surfaces and extremely large potholes,” the letter to the MDOT reads.

The letter, which also is expected to be signed by members of the boards of selectmen for Newburgh and Winterport, goes on to say that Route 69 is heavily traveled with both vehicles and large trucks and the “deteriorated condition of this road represents a serious safety hazard for the traveling public.”

John Devin, the MDOT’s eastern region engineer, says he’s sympathetic and understands the concerns written about by municipal officials, but it’s a matter of money.

“Truthfully, I’d like to reconstruct it, but the fiscal reality is we can’t,” Devin said. “It’s a fiscal reality we’re facing right now as far as our wish list or to-do list. It comes down to money, like so many things do.”

Devin said the section of Route 69 referred to in the letter is scheduled for “light capital pavement” — or LCP — work that could begin as early as June.

“That’s typically something we do when we can’t afford to do more,” he said.

Devin, who was the project manager for the three-mile section of Route 69 that was rebuilt this year, said Route 69 is classified by the MDOT as a priority four road, with one being of greatest importance (Interstate 95) and six being lowest (back roads).

“This is what we can do for now,” he said. “There’s a possibility we could do more, but that depends on our budget and priorities, and maybe we can do some pavement shim along with drainage improvements in certain areas.”

A better and longer-lasting — but much more expensive — method of repair is “PM wrap.” PM stands for pug mill, which is a plant-mixed combination of Portland cement, ground-up pavement, asphalt emulsion and water. Devin said it is mixed cold, applied with a regular paving machine, compacted with steamrollers, and then topped with a hot mix asphalt — creating 3-6 inches of new roadway.

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