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Franklin County and Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands discuss partnership to repair Byron Road

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FARMINGTON – The Franklin County Commissioners met with representatives from the Bureau of Parks and Lands to discuss the options for the Byron Road Tuesday morning.

Bill Patteron, the deputy director for the Bureau of Parks and Lands, noted that the Byron Road in Township Six North of Weld is an important point of access for the public and that the Bureau would like to see what can be done. The Tumbledown trails are access from the Byron Road in Township Six.

The county is unsure how much has been spent on the Byron Road in Township Six over the last five years, other than expenses for grading and gravel. After the storm in late June that washed out parts of the road, larger holes and washouts were filled with rock and gravel, a short section of pavement on a steep hill just before the Oxford County line was patched, and a couple of culverts were cleared out to allow water to flow freely. County Administrator Amy Bernard said that Franklin County has already invested about $12,000 in material to fill the bigger holes in the road.

The property owners immediately adjacent to the road are the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, and Bayroot, which owns a small 75-acre parcel. The parcel owned by Bayroot was apparently clear-cut recently and that is believed to have contributed to some of the issues on the road as heavy run-off from the clear-cut appeared to flow down onto the road.

An engineer with the Bureau of Parks and Lands visited the road last week to assess the situation. The engineer believed that the necessary work could be done in phases over the next few years to address first the high priority issues and then do some of the more preventative measures such as culvert upgrades.

Patterson indicated that the road is suffering from improper grading which has created false ditches at the edges of the road, preventing the water from running into the roadside ditches. He suggested that addressing this could be the first step, by grading the roads properly to eliminate ridges at the edges and allow water to drain into the ditches. Improvements to the ditches and culverts are necessary but could potentially be done over the next few years.

Patterson said the Bureau was reluctant to take ownership of the Byron Road, but that they would consider some sort of cost sharing and financial support for the necessary repairs and improvements. In addition, the county requested support from the Bureau’s engineers for technical advice on the repairs.

Commissioner Bob Carlton clarified that the previous discussion was around discontinuing maintenance on the Byron Road, not closing the road. Discontinuing maintenance is one possible option for the county to take but not the preferred choice.

The county will continue with developing a plan and a budget, and work with Parks and Lands and other state agencies such as Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, to find the best way to handle the work.

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