Media Archive

'Brutal' road soon to see construction

Article from Bangor Daily News, Thursday, February 02, 2006

By Diana Bowley
Staff Writer

LAGRANGE - Locals here say if the potholes don't get you, the camel hump-sized frost heaves will. They have even given the obstacles names.

Watch out for "Little Joe Peanut," a pothole so big that it will eat your tire and spit some of it back. And beware the "Whale's Hump," a frost heave sure to leave you hanging in midair, warned Fred Weymouth, a former Lagrange selectman.

Traveling over Route 6/155 - the east-west highway - is like playing dodgeball with a motor vehicle. Motorists have to travel either in the center of the road or in the ditch to avoid the bone-rattling craters and the head-banging frost heaves. Then there are those sunken culverts that motorists can't dodge.

"It's just brutal," Weymouth said Wednesday of the Lagrange-Howland Road. He said the project was included in the Department of Transportation's 2002 work plan and should have been completed then. Instead, the state spent too much time repeatedly studying and surveying the road. "It is a case study in how not to do business," he said.

Weymouth said local officials "shook every tree" and "banged every door" in Augusta to persuade the DOT to move forward with the road reconstruction project. Those efforts will finally pay off this summer, he said.

The DOT has solicited bids for the reconstruction of 10.27 miles of the road from Route 16 in Lagrange to the Maxfield Road, an estimated $5.9 million project, according to Herb Thomson, communications director for the DOT. "Route 6 is in very bad condition," he said on Tuesday.

Vaughn Thibodeau & Sons of Bangor submitted the lowest bid for the project and is expected to begin the work in April, a company official said Wednesday.

That work can't come fast enough, Milo Town Manager Jane Jones said Wednesday. She said the road condition is having an adverse impact on economic development in the region.

"The Eastern Piscataquis County Industrial Park's lifeline are those Route 6 and 16 connectors to the interstate," Mark Scarano, executive director of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, said Wednesday.

The road is also the lifeline of residents in the region and of truckers who haul pulpwood to mills in Lincoln and Millinocket. Many truckers are avoiding the road, using the Paddy Hill Road in Medford instead, a move not well received by Medford officials.

John Drake, who travels to and from the local Lagrange store, D & M Discount Sales, and his bank in Howland, said motorists have waited too long for the improvements. "I've never driven on a road this bad in my life," he said Wednesday.

"We really feel like second rate citizens," Gene Goodine of Lagrange said. "If you go to southern Maine, I don't believe you'll find a road as bad as this." Goodine, who lives on Route 6/155, said he has had to replace the six tires on his one-ton pickup truck because the crown in the road wore them out prematurely.

Weymouth, who lives about midway on the rutted road and travels to and from his job as manager of Town Hall Apartments in Lagrange, said his vehicle is on its second set of shocks in two months, even through he uses extra precaution on the road and knows its pitfalls. Other motorists hit the road completely unaware of its condition, he said.

To forewarn those unsuspecting motorists, Weymouth said the DOT should install some "road under destruction and bump" signs.

"Content above originated in the edition noted as a copyrighted article and is posted here with permission of the Bangor Daily News."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.