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County commissioners briefed on road closures
PARIS -- Oxford County commissioners are considering permanently closing a bridge and discontinuing maintenance on a short piece of road in Albany Township, but held off making a decision Tuesday afternoon.
Commissioners also authorized a project to replace a culvert on Hunts Corner Road, which is sometimes used by travelers as a shortcut to the Bethel area.
Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole told commissioners that the bridge off Route 5 near Songo Pond is in severe disrepair. The bridge is about two-tenths of a mile north on the Old West Bethel Road.
The bridge has been temporarily closed for the past three or four weeks, after Cole inspected it with a representative from Maine Department of Transportation, he said. The undercarriage is completely rusted and the structure is unfit for travel, Cole told commissioners.
He requested they decide whether to close the bridge permanently or start planning to repair or replace it. If they decide to close it, they might also consider discontinuing maintenance on the short stretch of road between it and Route 5, Cole suggested.
The short stretch is also in advanced stages of disrepair, he noted.
"That bridge has to be closed," Cole told commissioners. "It really cannot remain open."
Residents of the four houses farther up on Old West Bethel Road will be able to access their homes by using the Pattie Brook Road, less than a mile north on Route 5, Cole suggested. There are no houses south of the bridge, he said.
Commissioners agreed to enforce the temporary closure but held off from making a final decision on the bridge.
Commissioner Steve Merrill said he would like the commissioners to get a first-hand look at the bridge's condition.
A section of Hunts Corner Road is also being scheduled to be closed for a week to 10 days in mid-September, Cole reported. The county is replacing a culvert near Barton Road, which will require work crews to close it off, he said.
He told commissioners the county would advertise the closure, predicting traffic snarls if drivers weren't kept aware.
"Guaranteed, it's going to be a mess," he told commissioners.
The cost of the project has also ballooned, Cole reported. Commissioners initially budgeted $60,000 to replace the culvert and another one farther south.
The 50-foot long metal tunnel is being replaced by a 6- by 12-foot concrete box culvert, Cole said.
The lowest bid to install the culvert, however, is more than $44,000, Cole told commissioners. The concrete replacement culvert is another $20,000, he said.
Cole estimated the total cost to replace the culvert would be between $65,000 and $80,000, far above projections.
Replacing or reinforcing the second culvert wasn't urgent but the county should consider it in order to improve flow capacity and address some structural damage.
Commissioners did not to make a decision on whether to move forward and replace the second culvert, deciding instead to address the issue at their next meeting.