Soderberg Construction installed this concrete box under Route 1, which washed out when a beaver dam broke loose. Credit: Courtesy of Aroostook Unmanned Aerial Services

CYR PLANTATION, Maine — An Aroostook County road that heavy rainfall and a wayward beaver dam washed out is reopening today after being closed for a little more than a month.

Excessive rainfall over the weekend of May 28 caused a beaver dam upstream of Route 1 in Cyr Plantation to break loose. 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.

The washout affected 22 miles of Route 1 from Van Buren to Caribou in northern Aroostook County.

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, and tourists use the route as well. Annual average daily traffic on the road is 4,500 cars, according to Brent Bubar, northern region engineer for Maine Department of Transportation.

Repair of the road took longer than expected because the project was plagued by more rainy weather and difficulty locating the materials needed to fix it, Bubar said.

Supply chain complications due to COVID-19, inflation and fuel and delivery costs made acquiring metal piping in a timely manner impossible, Bubar said. With no metal piping available, Bubar turned to a concrete box 180 feet long, with a 12- by 14-foot opening to fill the gap in the washed out roadway.

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

“Anyone alive today isn’t going to be around (when the box is no longer holding up),” Bubar said.

The project has had its ups and downs but has been successful overall, he said.

“At times I thought it was almost magical and other times I didn’t get enough sleep at night,” Bubar said. “There have been a lot of issues [materials delays and rainy weather] but we’ve gotten through them.”

Bubar said Route 1 will reopen to traffic sometime late Friday, but crews will continue to replace missing guardrails in the coming weeks.