News Feature

The Island
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 27, 2014
"Protect the lobsters"
Route 15 to be graveled, Oceanville to get pontoons

The Maine Department of Transportation has announced that a rearranging of project funding priorities will bring relief to the Islanders suffering from the nearly impassable condition of Route 15.

According to MDOT spokesperson Frank Flexible, changing the Oceanville Bridge project from a repair of the existing bridge to installing a pontoon bridge in its place will free up funds to do some immediate remediation on Route 15.

After a routine recent visit to Stonington by MDOT’s Edward Engineer, the word spread at the highway department’s headquarters that Engineer said that “Route 15 on the Island was in the top 10 worst condition roads in the state.” That, coupled with the recent report that over 17 million pounds of lobster left the Island over Route 15 last year, it prompted the agency to go into what Flexible called in a telephone interview “5th gear” to fix the problems.

“We can’t have those $47 million worth of lobsters from the top lobster port in the state getting motion sickness and die on the way to market,” Flexible said.

The pontoon bridge will be able to carry vehicles of all classes and weights, according to the MDOT spokesperson.

The money saved in Oceanville will be used to have equipment come down to grind up the existing fractured tar surface of Route 15. Then the under layer will be scraped, leveled and ditched properly. A massive convoy of dump trucks will be used to haul gravel on Island to mix with the ground up tar residue then rolled to provide a hard, level surface.

According to the MDOT, this approach will yield a number of benefits to Islanders. If the new surface heaves or suffers from water build up and run off, it can easily be re-graded, “a good 19th road surface.” During the work, hard packed shoulders will be added to provide safety for walkers and bikers.

This approach, Flexible said, will give the MDOT time to study and budget for a complete rebuilding of the roadway like was done some years ago on the Sedgwick portion of Route 15.

Work is scheduled to start on Tuesday, April 1.