Letter to MaineDOT states Woolwich’s, Dresden’s Route 127 concerns

Sat, 05/11/2024 - 8:45am

Continued complaints from motorists concerning driving conditions on Route 127 have prompted the Woolwich and Dresden selectboards to send a letter to the Commissioner’s Office of Maine Department of Transportation.

“While we thank your agency for being responsive to emergencies, such as flooding, culvert failures, and some potholes, maintenance is our biggest concern,” states the letter dated May 1 and signed by the selectboards. “If you took the time to drive the road you would find how poorly the shoulders are and how dangerous the driving has become with broken edges that overlap into the traffic lanes …,” the letter continues. The selectboards fear these factors impact the safety of drivers and their passengers.

Route 127, also known as Middle Road in Woolwich, is a major thoroughfare for Bath Iron Works employees and other motorists who commute daily over the two-lane highway with a posted speed limit of 45 mph. Last month, a section of the road had to be temporarily closed after a culvert collapsed. It has been repaired. The selectboards want a face-to-face meeting with transportation officials. Among their requests is that MaineDOT re-evaluate its maintenance schedule of repaving Rt. 127 every eight years.

“We’re hoping after reading our concerns the department of transportation might send a representative so that we can talk in more detail,” said Jason Shaw, vice chair of the Woolwich selectboard. “If people have read the newspaper then they know there was the recent problem of Route 127 being closed because of a culvert failure. The problem was quickly addressed, the road’s reopened and the contractor hired by the state did an excellent job. We're now simply asking MDOT consider addressing some of the other sections of the road where the shoulders have deteriorated and pavement has broken,” he added.

Shaw said he and the other Woolwich selectboard members would be willing to meet with MaineDOT officials anytime. “They’d told us they intend to have a skim coat of pavement applied to Route 127 next summer. After they meet with us and hear what we have to say they might be willing do some widening and maybe consider addressing the shoulders that motorists have complained to us about,” he said.

“MaineDOT will be setting up a meeting but I have no details yet,” commented Allison Helpler, a Woolwich selectman and House District 49 representative to the legislature. In a May 10 email to Wiscasset Newspaper. Hepler stated she heard back from highway officials the day they received the letter from the Woolwich and Dresden selectboards.

According to MaineDOT’s website, the Work Plan for 2024 includes earmarking roughly $200,000 for drainage maintenance, i.e., ditching and culvert replacement on Route 127 in “various places” between Dresden and Woolwich. Work will begin at the intersection of Route 27 near Dresden Takeout “extending 15.22 miles southward to the Woolwich-Arrowsic town line.” An estimated $192,000 of similar improvements, ditching and culvert replacement is also planned on Route 128, also known as River Road.

Repaving the Dresden/Woolwich stretch of Route 127 is not listed among the projects appearing on MaineDOT’s work plan website. The site does however list “light capital paving” on Route 127 next year “beginning at the Woolwich town line and extending south 10.16 miles to Five Islands Road (Arrowsic).” Light capital paving is a half or 5/8-inch layer of new pavement; MaineDOT’s 2025 paving plan also includes Route 128 (River Road), “beginning at Route 27 and extending south 15.20 miles to Route 127.” For more information, visit https://www.maine.gov/mdot/projects/workplan/search/