Maine Department of Transportation and Soderberg Construction work to repair a section of Route 1 in Cyr Plantation washed out when flash flooding caused a beaver dam to break loose in late May. Credit: Courtesy of Aroostook Unmanned Aerial Services

CYR PLANTATION, Maine — Supply chain difficulties and uncooperative weather are extending the repairs to a busy section of roadway in northern Aroostook County that washed out in May, a project spokesman said.

Flash flooding from heavy rain and a beaver dam that broke loose during the storm caused a major washout that affected access to 22 miles of Route 1 between Van Buren and Caribou.

Approximately 3 to 5 inches of rainfall caused a beaver dam upstream of Route 1 in Cyr Plantation to break loose in flood waters. The beaver dam washed downstream in the rapid water and plugged a culvert near Vaillancourt Hill Road, clearing out a chunk of Route 1 about 7 feet in diameter.

People from Madawaska and Van Buren often travel Route 1 to reach the more southern parts of Aroostook. Both towns have international border ports to Canada. 

Challenges with locating materials to fix the road have dampened efforts to repair the damage, according to Brent Bubar, northern region engineer for Maine Department of Transportation. 

Supply chain complications due to COVID-19, inflation and fuel and delivery costs made acquiring metal piping in a timely manner impossible, Bubar said. 

“No one had any in stock. It would have been a month to get it made and delivered,” Bubar said. “We had to find something in stock that would satisfy Natural Resource Protection Act standards.”

With no metal piping available, Bubar turned to another option and located a concrete box 180 feet long, 12- by 14-foot pening to fill the gap in the washed out roadway.

Concrete lasts longer than metal but takes longer to install, Bubar said.

“It will be around a long time — I expect more than 100 years,” he said. “The beavers shouldn’t be able to shut this box off anymore.” 

The box also meets NRPA standards for fish passage. 

Soderberg Construction provided the lowest of three bids for the project, which was further delayed by rainy weather. The thunderstorms and rain Thursday night overwhelmed the construction site, and workers had to upgrade the bypass pipes and pumping apparatus, Bubar said.

“That took about four days,” Bubar said. “They have put everything necessary into the project to get it done. It will take something very serious to stop them now.”

Bubar said it looks like the project will be completed the week of June 27. 

He suggested alternate routes until the Route 1 problem is resolved. From Van Buren, use Route 1A into Limestone and use Route 89 to go into Caribou. Madawaska residents heading south should go to Fort Kent and then south on Route 161 also known as Caribou Road.

A 360-degree panorama of the Route 1 road repair in Cyr Plantation can be viewed at the Aroostook Unmanned Aerial Services Facebook page

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