July 09, 2020

Palmyra road work halted, options sought

PALMYRA – Supervisors with Sunrise Paving of Orono, a division of Lane Construction, halted reconstruction work on Raymond Road this week when they ran into difficulty scraping up and collecting the existing pavement for reuse in the new surface.

Representatives from Sunrise, S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc. of Bangor, and town selectmen held an emergency meeting Thursday morning to discuss options.

The road has a bumpy history, having first been paved by Sunrise with a mixture called “cold patch” in 1999. That mixture proved to be unsatisfactory and began falling apart.

“We were plowing it up right off the road,” said Palmyra Public Works director Paul Gatcomb before the meeting Thursday. The original problem, he explained, was that the asphalt emulsion was not laid in the proper proportion. Pavement is part asphalt and part dirt and stone, he said, and when not enough liquid is used, the dirt and stone will not bind properly.

Coming back this summer to redo the road at their expense, Sunrise officials found that wear and tear on the road had complicated a simple repaving job.

Edward Nason of Sunrise told selectmen that the road has settled and wheel ruts in the pavement have contoured the road. Because the machine used to reclaim the existing pavement has a flat blade, the company was forced to dig deeper than planned. As a result, a lot more gravel and dirt were being mixed in with the ground asphalt.

Stephen W. Cole, president of S.W. Cole Engineers, was asked to assess the situation for the town. He said Thursday that about a third of what was being ground up was gravel and dirt from below the road, a situation that Sunrise could not avoid because of the configuration of the road surface.

Sunrise’s agreement with Palmyra called for adding 2.9 percent asphalt emulsion to the ground-up product, but to do the job properly, agreed Nason and Cole, a higher percentage – nearly double – would have to be added.”Because of the amount of gravel, we are going to have to use twice the amount of asphalt as planned,” said Nason. “I want the best road possible. That’s why I stopped the operation.”

Although the work as originally planned was to be paid for by Sunrise Paving, Selectman Dean Cray said any additional work or a change in the original work plans would have to be paid for by the town.

The parties involved bantered around a number of options, including paving the entire road with 11/2 inches of hot mix, 2 inches of hot mix, completing only the part of the road already ground up and reducing the width of the road from 20 feet to 18 feet.

Estimates ran as high as $112,000. The original contract, signed in September of 1999, was for $59,139.

“I want to see whatever we do out there done right,” said Cray. “I don’t think the town wants to walk away from that road completely.”

Whatever the option, he said, a special town meeting will have to be held to obtain the funds necessary to complete the road work.

Nason said it would take a short amount of time to come up with cost estimates for the various options. The selectmen will then schedule another meeting to determine which option to authorize and if approaching residents for additional funds will be necessary.

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