Whitefield will receive word from the Army Corps of Engineers about whether the replacement culvert on South Hunts Meadow Road can be expedited as an emergency situation.
At the Whitefield Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, July 20, Selectman Keith Sanborn said that he met with Jay Clement, of the Army Corps of Engineers, the morning of Thursday, July 15. Sanborn said that he argued that Whitefield’s need for a culvert had developed into an emergency situation and that the Army Corps should expedite their review of the application.
The Army Corps’ guidelines defines an emergency situation as “a situation which would result in an unacceptable hazard to life, a significant loss of property, or an immediate, unforeseen, and significant economic hardship if corrective action requiring a permit is not undertaken within a time period less than the normal time needed to process the application under standard procedures.”
Due to the closure of South Hunts Meadow Road, traffic has been diverted to Jewett Road, which runs parallel to South Hunts Meadow Road but was not built to sustain the same high level of traffic. Sanborn said that it fulfills the definition of an emergency.
Sanborn said that he had explained to Clement that the town had been budgeting $50,000 a year for the last three years to save enough money to replace the Leonard’s Bridge culvert with an actual bridge, but the unanticipated failure of the culvert on April 1 caused Whitefield to simply opt for a larger culvert instead, which the town thought could be installed more quickly.
Sanborn said that Clement will present the information he gathered from his conversation with Sanborn and the application to his supervisor, and determine whether the Army Corps will approve the town’s culvert design or they can determine that the town can proceed with the replacement without a permit, with updates sent to Sanborn by the end of the week of July 18.
Sanborn said that there could be complications with construction, as the Army Corps generally requires that construction projects be out of the water by Sept. 30, but the culvert would not be constructed until that time.
Mary Jean Ambrose, chair of the Pittston Board of Selectmen, and Pittston Road Commissioner Sam Snow were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, along with a number of concerned Pittston residents. Frank Ober and Mike McMorrow, members of the Whitefield Roads Committee, were also present.
Snow explained to the selectmen that he was in attendance to get an update on the progress with replacing the culvert, as he had been receiving many calls from Pittston residents inquiring about the situation. Ambrose thanked the selectmen for keeping Pittston’s town officials in the loop on the situation.
In other news, the selectmen signed an agreement to accept a new speed radar sign from the Maine Department of Transportation. The town also signed an agreement with Central Maine Power Co. to install streetlights at eight intersections in town.
Vice Chair Charlene Donahue presided over Tuesday’s meeting as Chair Lester Sheaffer was not in attendance.
The selectmen will next meet on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m.