Questions posed by Kansas Road washout

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Four inches of rain within as many hours wreaked havoc on a section of Kansas Road recently, washing away a culvert and a large chunk of roadway. The failure sent water cascading down Kansas Shore Road, a private road, and a couple living on it appealed to Bridgton Selectmen Tuesday to assume some responsibility for the damage to their road.

But Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz wasn’t budging.

“You have our sympathy,” Berkowitz told Kansas Shores Road resident Kathy Fink, formerly a seasonal resident who, with her husband, now lives in Bridgton year round. “But even if there were a deluge coming through, we don’t go on private roads.”

Public Works Director Jim Kidder said the town has the right to move water from one side of the road to the other using culverts. As for how drainage flows tend to affect adjacent private roads, he added, “That’s up to the road association. They're responsible for private roads.”

Fink said the rain was so heavy it left a “gaping hole” on Kansas Road that’s since been patched. Her husband said the culvert failure caused so much erosion on the private road that “Someone could break an axle on their car.” Kathy Fink added that it seemed to her that “the year round roads seem to get paved first” in Bridgton, and town roads serving as the main arterial for lakefront roads have a low priority.

Kidder didn’t deny her remark, responding instead by saying the town tries to spread its limited paving money as best it can.

Roads like Mountain Road and Kansas Road need more than just a resurfacing, they need to be restructured from the ground up if the town expects the work to last more than 10 years, he explained. “They need to have more groundwork, and not just money on the top.” And groundwork is much more expensive, since many town roads are little more than a “glorified cow path” under the surface.

The last time Kansas Road was repaved along its entire four-mile length was in 1999 and 2000, said Kidder, and the plan is to grind the road and place a stabilizing base on it prior to a final paving. A mile and a half near the Naples town line will be done this year, he said, but “it’s going to take a couple of years, worst case three years,” before the entire road can be redone.

Kidder said the storm damage was especially extensive because the town had just replaced the 24-inch culvert and paved over the adjoining surface. He took exception to the speculation, from a resident who called Selectman Chairman Doug Taft, that he replaced the 24-inch culvert with a smaller culvert.

“The size of the culvert was 24-inch, and it was replaced with 24-inch,” Kidder stated.

State laws govern the size and design of culvert replacements, said Kidder, and one of the most basic rules is that a culvert is never replaced with one of a smaller size. And going with something larger might sound logical, but isn’t always advisable.

“For some reason, that ditch filled up with more water” than usual, Kidder said. Interestingly, he added, “We seem to have some areas of town that get more rain than other areas” with many storms. “That isn’t the first time that culvert has caused problems on Kansas Road.”

Kidder said he is waiting for a construction crew to come repave the road, and the work should be done soon.

He asked the Finks to keep in mind that along with damage repair, a proper road program requires that “I need to save roads if I can,” by repaving them before they become too vulnerable to damage from wear.

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