May 23, 2018
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Road project to be redone, asphalt mix not up to DOT spec

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

FORT KENT, Maine — Wild weather and problems with paving material have put a crimp in a Main Street paving project, but the contractor responsible for the job said recently that his company will correct the problem as quickly as possible.

Officials with the Maine Department of Transportation confirmed that four-tenths of a mile of new pavement that was put down on the mile-long Main Street project earlier this summer will be removed and replaced because the hot asphalt mix did not meet DOT specifications. Approximately 450 tons of pavement will be removed.

Testing and resulting issues and the weather have significantly delayed the completion of the $324,000 project, which was originally supposed to be finished in early August.

Jon Bither, project manager for the northern region of the DOT, said that all of the replacement work will be done by Northern Maine Paving Inc., the Limestone based contractor, so that no additional costs will be incurred by the DOT.

According to Mark Latti, spokesman for the DOT, all asphalt in all state paving projects is run through tests at a state lab in Bangor. The Fort Kent downtown resurfacing project involves removing 1¾ inches of the existing pavement and replacing it with two layers of new pavement.

After crews began work, technicians took samples of the placed asphalt mix and sent them to Bangor for analysis. Test results indicated high air voids, and core samples of the material indicated low density, according to Bither. Such factors can shorten the life of the pavement.

It was been a very wet summer in Aroostook County. Three tornadoes soaked the region in June, and July went down as one of the wettest ever in northern Maine. The wet weather continued through August, with that month being the second wettest on record, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.

Bither acknowledged that moisture may have been a contributing factor in the test results as rain could have saturated the raw material used by the Limestone company to make the asphalt.

Ryan Pelletier, project manager for Northern Maine Paving, said that this summer’s weather has been a significant issue.

“We are not the only contractor in this state to have a section removed and replaced for failing tests,” he said in a written statement. “With above average rain in the northern Aroostook area, there is bound to be some issues with different things.”

He added that the company is committed to providing the state with an acceptable product and will correct and complete the Fort Kent project by Oct. 1. Pelletier said that the company has been working with town officials, resulting in a decision to put off work in order to make it easier for people to attend the recent International Muskie Fishing Derby and Homecoming and Scarecrow Festival events at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Bither said that this is the first time an issue has arisen with the Limestone company.

“With the exception of the Fort Kent project, Northern Maine Paving has consistently met the DOT specifications for their materials and workmanship,” he added.

Despite the issue in Fort Kent, Bither said that the DOT had a successful summer in The County with other paving projects. As part of its Maintenance Surface Treatment Program, the DOT resurfaced 70 miles of roadway throughout the St. John Valley this season. They also have completed work on a 4.5 mile stretch of roadway on Route 161 west of Fort Kent. The result is 43,000 tons of asphalt placed on 75 miles of road in the St. John Valley this summer.

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