Closed Portion Of U.S. 2 Near Waterville To Reopen By Aug 23
There's some concern about how long it's taking to repair a section of U.S 2 Hwy in the Waterville Plateau that was heavily damaged by a mud slide this month.
Local residents and farmers have questioned why work is not being done 24 hours a day on the crucial east-to-west roadway.
Project engineer Jeff Deal says doing so would not be any more efficient than the current 12-hour, six-day work schedule.
"We could probably move a little bit quicker on rebuilding some of the embankment, but at the same time there's a lot of other activity happening in parallel that even if we moved to a 24-hour window, you're not picking up that much time in your schedule," said Deal.
The contractor started work last Thursday, July 20, although the road's been closed since Tuesday July 11.
The contractor is working under an emergency requirement for the highway to be reopened within a 30-day working window. At the current six days a week schedule, U.S. 2 would have to reopen by August 23.
Deal says that deadline will be met, although the date could be moved up if steady progress is made.
He also says there's heavy risk when crews try to speed up work.
"We accelerate this too much and we can, kind of, run into a situation where you're getting the cart before the horse,” Deal said. "Things aren't getting built correctly. In some scenarios we may end it needing to rip something out that was put in. We don't want to run into that."
In addition, Deal said crews are currently stretched thin with many projects now underway during the busy summer road construction season.
The effort to repair U.S. 2 in the area where it’s shut down is a large undertaking.
Approximately 10,000 cubic yards of rock material must be brought in to replace the ground underneath the roadway that was taken out in the mudslide. Normal sized individual dump trucks are only able to transport 12 cubic yards per load. About 5,000 cubic yards of dirt has been moved in so far.
There are also about a dozen culverts that run underneath the highway that were clogged up with dirt runoff from the mudslide.
The culverts are being water jetted and vacuumed out with crews completing one culvert per day due to total blockages of culverts 8-10 feet beneath the highway. That process is about halfway done.
In addition, about 3,000 feet of guardrail is being removed, 1,500 feet will be replaced, and the remainder will receive slope-flattening to remove the need for guardrail. Crews have completed nearly all removal and most of the slope flattening.
Deal estimates surfacing and paving of the highway will begin within the next 12-13 days
He acknowledges the detours in place while the road is closed are adding an additional 25 minutes to travel through the area.
Deal said there’s been discussion of allowing local traffic through on the damaged road, but unstable conditions would present safety concerns.
“We can’t have traffic driving next to 10-foot drop-offs,” said Deal.