November 2, 2012

Farmington's Whittier road closed through Wednesday at earliest

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON -- Whittier Road, which was closed by town officials after superstorm Sandy threatened to send it into a nearby river, will remained closed until at least Wednesday.

click image to enlarge

The Whittier Road in Farmington is now closed to traffic, due to a nearby unstable and eroding Sandy River embankment.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

There is concern that high water levels in the Sandy River are concealing additional damage to the bank, which has been eroding at an accelerated rate since it was destabilized by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.

Town Manager Richard Davis said Friday that the water level has come down a couple of feet from its high point, revealing new cracks in a riverbank that was already considered to be at risk of collapse.

The town can't assess the extent of the new damage until the water levels return to normal, Davis said. With another bout of rain expected early next week, he said the closure will remain into effect until at least Wednesday or Thursday.

As the water recedes, it draws more soil out of the bank, which Davis and others fear could cause a major collapse.

The town has been preparing for a possible road closure for months, when it became apparent that a project to stabilize the bank could not be done this year.

The project was delayed by the federal government based on concerns that it could threaten the local population of the endangered Atlantic salmon, which used the Sandy River as a critical spawning ground.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287
mhhetling@centralmaine.com

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