January 6

Slick roads cause accidents, flooding in Waterville area

Clogged storm drains flood roads, and slush makes them slick as temperatures rise and snow melts.

By Jesse Scardina jscardina@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Nearly an inch of rain combined with melting snow and ice created treacherous road conditions Monday that pressured road crews hurried to prevent conditions from worsening over night.

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PUSHED OUT: Motorist Derek Archer, in the front car, is pushed out of a foot of water on College Avenue in Waterville during steady rain on Monday. Mark Farino came along and slowly pushed Archer’s vehicle out. Area streets and roads were flooded as drains were plugged and could not handle the volume of water.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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SOAKING WET: Bruce Brickett works to drain a section of Route 100 in Benton during steady rain on Monday. “My feet are soaking wet but I need to keep working,” Brickett said.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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While Monday featured the warmest temperatures in more than a month in the Waterville area, temperatures are expected to plummet to as low as the single digits Monday night into Tuesday, creating dangerous icey patches on roads.

The winter meltdown Monday sent vehicles off the road or flooded them, with more than two dozen reports on police logs in central Maine Monday morning. About 10 accidents and reports of flooded cars were taken in Kennebec County, while at least five occurred in Franklin County.

In addition to a couple of flooded cars in Waterville, Somerset County had at least half dozen weather-related incidents Monday morning.

The heavy rain also contributed to power outages for more than 1,300 Central Maine Power customers statewide.

A Kingfield woman was killed in a New Vineyard traffic accident Monday, but it wasn’t clear if the slushy road caused the crash.

With the puddles of slushy water throughout the state expected to freeze overnight, local authorities and Gov. Paul LePage urged people to stay off the roads.

“This is both for your safety and the safety of highway crews working to clear the roads,” LePage said in a press release. “If you do need to travel, consider all roads ice-covered unless you have knowledge to the contrary.”

Temperatures reached the high 40s Monday, the first time since early December that the temperature rose above 32 degrees. The result was roughly eight to 10 inches of slushy water on some roads, including College Avenue, parts of Main Street, Western Avenue, High Street and Front Street in Waterville.

Because of weeks of snow buildup and sub-zero temperatures, the majority of the city’s 1,900 storm drains were blocked by ice and snow, preventing the water from draining off the roads, according to Mark Turner, director for Waterville Public Works.

“This is the worst thing that can happen on a day where the snowbanks are so icy and blocking the drains,” Turner said. “We’re working with the fire department and Waterville sewer district to free up the drains. Just about every street in the city had some water buildup on it.”

By Monday afternoon, public works crews had cleared up most of the storm drains in the affected areas, but Turner said some of the 1,900 storm drains may still be covered.

“We eradicated the bigger problems we had,” Turner said, adding that about 95 percent of the storm drains were blocked early Monday.

“We’re trying to deal with the slush and ice buildup on roads before the temperature drops tonight,” Turner said. “We’re scraping the roads and sanding as we need to.”

Crews had taken care of the most severely flooded areas by 3 p.m., Turner said, but as that happened, potholes emerged, including on parts of Main Street.

“It’s going to be a difficult year for potholes because of all the moisture and the freezing and thawing,” Turner said.

The same issues of flooding in low-lying areas occurred in Skowhegan, where Road Commissioner Greg Dore said his crews were working to clear snowbanks off the storm drains before the temperature drops Monday night. After sunset, crews will continue working on the roads, clearing them the forecasted overnight freeze, Dore said.

“We’ll come in and scrape the slush off the road, and salt and sand everything,” Dore said. “Hopefully that will keep it from sticking to the road and we’ll come back out on Tuesday and clean up the aftermath.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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UNPLUGGED: Waterville Parks and Recreation Department employees Steve Buzzell, left, and Sam Green were reassigned Monday to help the city Public Works Department clear storm drains in Waterville.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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OVERWHELMED: Maxim Turmelle, left, and his uncle Arthur Turmelle search for a plugged storm drain in Waterville on Monday. “We called the city but they were overwhelmed with flooding calls so we did it,” Arthur Turmelle said.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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BLAST OFF: A plow truck drives through a flooded street in Waterville sending a rooster tail of spray in its wake on Monday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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ROOFER WORK: Steve Libby spent part of Sunday clearing accumulated snow from his front porch roof in Waterville ahead of the coming rain.

Staff photo by Jim Evans


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