St. David residents call their road ‘most dangerous road in Maine’
MADAWASKA, Maine — Town officials will be taking a closer look at what it would cost to repair Aspen Road, in St. David, following concerns raised by several citizens at the Board of Selectmen meeting, Monday, March 6.
“The old dirt road was better than it is now,” neighborhood resident Roger Albert told the selectmen. He said the town’s recent road repair efforts were “ridiculous.”
Albert described Aspen Road as one with barely any asphalt left intact, strewn with potholes and ruts. According to Albert, repair efforts have included spreading crumbled hotop on the road and using it to fill in holes. This material does not stay in place long, he contends, and much of it ends up on residents’ lawns.
“We’ve been on the proverbial ‘back of the bus’,” when it comes to road repairs, fellow Aspen Road resident Jim Michaud said. Following the meeting, Michaud, who is prone to flowery language at times, said, with a laugh “It’s time to free the residents of Aspen Road from their bondage.”
Aspen is approximately 2.25 miles long and connects Beaullieu and Gagnon roads. For residents in the area it offers a short cut either toward downtown Madawaska or, in the opposite direction, toward Grand Isle via U.S. Route 1.
“It’s on our radar screen,” board chair Brian Thibeault told Michaud and the other Aspen Road residents at the meeting. Road safety and maintenance are a “big concern,” of the board, he said.
Kevin Deschaine, another resident who was at the meeting, commented that the time has come to fix Aspen Road.
“We’ve been asking for 10 years,” he said. “But, it’s always been delayed.”
Michaud said that a motorcycling enthusiast friend of his described the stretch as “the most dangerous road in Maine.”
A portion of the town’s property taxes collected each year, equal to one mill, is specifically earmarked for local road maintenance, according to Thibeault. Those funds, however, are not sufficient to repair all the roads at once.
“No magic bullet will solve these issues,” Thibeault said. He commented that selectmen work with Public Works and the town manager on assessing the highest need roads each year.
“Not everyone will be happy,” Thibeault conceded. “We can’t do everything at the same time.”
Thibeault also commented the property tax abatement agreement negotiated a few years ago with Twin Rivers Paper Company, has decreased the amount of money placed into to road repair fund, thereby delaying work.
Town Manager Ryan D. Pelletier asked the Aspen Road residents present at the board meeting what their preference was regarding which end of their road should be worked on first, should the project be approved.
“Whatever makes the most financial sense,” said Michaud, who deferred to the engineering and financing expertise of town officials and those in Public Works.
Selectman Don Chase expressed concern that repairs on Aspen Road could be more than surface deep.
“We need to take a look under the road first,” he said, adding that significant work may be needed to the underlying roadbed. “You can throw a lot of money into asphalt, and not have it be worth it.”
Board members directed Pelletier to come back to them with an initial cost analysis of repair options, before they made any decisions.
“This could be a big expense,” Thibeau said. “It may be a case for special financing, where a warrant would be needed,” rather than funding it through the normal road repair fund.