DEXTER, Maine — The Dexter Town Council took swift action at a special meeting on April 24 to repair road damage caused by the April 15-16 flood that pushed the east bank of the Sebasticook River over its banks.
In a 20-minute meeting, the council voted unanimously to waive the bid process and authorize the town’s public works department, C.M. Ellms and Son and Lawson’s Landscape Construction to start repairs.
The Lincoln Street washout was the highest-priority item and is estimated to cost around $85,000 to replace the heavily-damaged galvanized culvert with a concrete model.
But the council also authorized the public works department to buy a new steel culvert in anticipation of eventually replacing the collapsed bridge between Millside Fitness and the Grist Mill Museum.
Chuck Ellms outlined the scope of the damage to Lincoln Street and highly recommended that a concrete culvert be installed in that location. “It will cost about $10,000 more than the galvanized model, but it will have a lot more capacity and a lot more longevity,” Ellms said. “We won’t have to replace it in our lifetime. The steel one has about a 25-year lifespan.”
The plan calls for two culverts, each 70 feet long, to be installed side-by-side. At the present time, Lincoln Street is closed to through traffic since the washout is near the Watering Hole Tavern parking lot, commonly known as the old Dexter Shoe factory.
Ellms said that he and another contractor, Steve Lawson, discussed ways to temporarily divert the water flow with the Department of Environmental Protection while the work was being done. “They’re OK with that,” he said.
Public works director Mike Delaware said that American Concrete is also willing to wait until after the new municipal budget is passed in July to bill the town for material and labor.
Ellms estimated that it would cost around $10,000 to stabilize the downtown stream bed where part of the Grist Mill Museum is only supported by wooden beams.
Town Manager Shelley Watson said that Rick Whitney, the curator of the Grist Mill Museum, told her he had no immediate concerns about the structure. “They feel the building is stable. Once the water level goes down, they’ll be able to fix it,” Watson said.
A steel culvert was considered more feasible for the Grist Mill location since traffic is limited to vehicles using the parking lot behind the Main Street businesses and museum.
There were some questions about whether there was enough money in the current budget to purchase anything related to the flood damage, but Delaware said that there was $92,000 left in the paving account that could be used.
Councilor Mike Blake introduced the motion to waive the bidding process and authorize the contractors to get started. “It’s going to be (financially) painful, but we’ve got to get that street open again,” Blake said. The measure passed unanimously.
The next major hurdle for the project is overcoming the weather. Ellms said that the water level has to decrease enough so that the stream can be diverted first. “And we need five good (weather) days in a row,” said Delaware.
The next regularly-scheduled Dexter Town Council meeting is Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m.