April 02, 2020

Northern Maine officials push for work on roads

OAKFIELD — Northern Maine officials with the Route 11 and 212 Corridor Committee presented officials in Augusta Wednesday with more than 100 letters and a petition listing more than 1,500 people who support the reconstruction of Routes 11 and 212.

The Route 11 and 212 Corridor Committee wants 56 miles of Route 11, from Ashland to Stacyville, rebuilt. Of the 56 miles, 37 need repairs and upgrades. Some sections of the road have not been rebuilt since 1912.

The committee also is seeking improvements to Route 212 between Route 11 in Moro Plantation and Route 2 in Smyrna.

The two roads are main arteries for forest and wood-related products industries in western Aroostook County.

“We are encouraged in our effort after the meetings in Augusta,” Candyce Roy, chairman of the Route 11 and 212 Corridor Committee and town manager of Oakfield, Smyrna and Merrill, said Thursday.

Roy and Daniel Levesque, vice chairman of the road committee and an official of the J. Paul Levesque Co. in Masardis and Ashland, were at Augusta Wednesday with members of Leaders Encouraging Aroostook Development. They met with the Aroostook County delegation and the appropriations and transportation committees on funding repairs on the two northern Aroostook County roads.

Roy said the Routes 11 and 212 proposals were No. 1 on a list of four priorities adopted by the county delegation at a breakfast meeting with the appropriations and transportation committees, LEAD and the Route 11 and 212 Corridor Committee representatives.

The vote to adopt the four priorities came after a 90-minute meeting, said Roy. The priorities are the Route 11 projects, Route 1 renovation, Interstate 95 extension through Aroostook County and education.

Roy and Levesque also testified Wednesday in front of the appropriations committee.

“I feel we really got some commitments from them. I think our project will be constructed in a condensed time frame,” said Roy.

The group hopes to have five separate reconstruction projects between 1998 and 2003. The cost has been estimated at $15 million. Of that amount, the committee thinks it has secured $8 million.

The group would like to see $5 million of work done in 1998-1999. So far they have only $2 million available.

Roy and Levesque’s group have proposed rebuilding the road along the existing roadway to cut permitting time from years to months, and to bring the rebuilding costs down from $1 million to $400,000 per mile.

The problem with Routes 11 and 212 is that the roads are intermittently closed to truck traffic because of warm or wet weather. Last winter, Route 11 from Ashland to Patten, and Route 212, which connects Route 11 to U.S. Route 2, were posted with weight restrictions as early as December.

When the two roads are posted for periods of 12 weeks or more, it adds $8.5 million to shipping costs over longer alternate routes. It causes some businesses to cut other costs including employees.

The committee would like the road rebuilt to standards that would eliminate the need for posting. It is estimated that Route 11 is used to ship an average of $7 million a day in lumber and related products.

“We feel very encouraged that this is going to happen. Things are happening,” said Roy.

While in Augusta, Roy and Levesque gave the committee about 100 letters of support for the project. They came from business people, school and town officials and truckers.

She also presented state officials with a petition containing 1,500 names supporting the funding of the rebuilding project.

“All of them support our proposed project,” said Roy.

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