May 28, 2018
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Katahdin Iron Works Road may be closed to winter maintenance

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

MILO, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners agreed Tuesday to delay a decision on whether to discontinue winter maintenance on the Katahdin Iron Works Road to allow comment from timber harvesters who work in the region.

The absence of year-round residents living on the KI Road from Route 11 to the KI gatehouse, and the fact that access to and from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s camps is mostly from the Greenville end, prompted the discussion.

Discontinuing winter maintenance on the approximately 6 miles of roadway would save about $37,000 a year to Unorganized Territory taxpayers, according to Commissioner Tom Lizotte. The last cost for plowing the road was $6,200 a mile, he said.

Should the commissioners vote on Aug. 24 to close the road for the winter months, Lizotte said the plan would be to plow the first half-mile of the road and create a turnaround to accommodate the one year-round resident who lives near the Route 11 side and for snowmobile traffic.

“Is the benefit of plowing that for that money worth the use people would get [from it]?” Lizotte said, suggesting that is the question that needs an answer.

Bill London of Milo, who previously plowed the KI Road for the county, advised the commissioners that wood harvesters use the road and wondered aloud how such a decision would affect them.

While London and four other area residents attended a public hearing on the matter Tuesday held specifically in Milo to accommodate residents, the absence of any local wood harvesters prompted commissioners to delay possible action.

“One of the things we had hoped for was that people in the woods industry would be here to talk about the benefits” or lack of benefits of such a move, Lizotte said.

In addition to the concern regarding wood harvesters, Brownville resident Terry Knowles noted the safety aspect of such a move. He reminded the commissioners about the rescues that have taken place in the region and said if the road were not plowed, it would take emergency responders that much longer to reach the area.

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