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Rain, runoff damage, shut down portion of River Road in Caribou indefinitely

CARIBOU, Maine — A section of the River Road in Caribou is breaking apart due to a combination of rain saturating the soil beneath the road, the type of soil below the roadway, its proximity to the Aroostook River, and spring runoff, according to town officials. 

Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan said these combined elements created a “perfect storm” causing the road to split in half over the weekend, and as a result city officials closed off a small portion of the road.

Caribou Police have indefinitely closed a portion of the River Road due to runoff and ground saturation that has led to a growing crack in the roadway. According to Chief Michael Gahagan, the rift has grown since this photo was taken this weekend and city officials may need to relocate individuals living in the affected area if the situation grows to the point in which it threatens their safety. (Courtesy of Caribou Police Department)

Currently there are four residences in the closed off area, and as of May 1 they are able to drive around the barricades to travel to and from there homes. However, the chief said the situation is quickly worsening and the city may need to relocate those who live in the affected area.

“If we get a large amount of water or rain, we may have to reassess the situation,” he said.

Gahagan said Caribou saw a similar situation on a smaller scale back in 2008 on the Grimes Mill Road.

“We had the same type of situation, but it was much smaller,” the chief said. “It was about 50 feet, whereas [the crack in the River Road] is over 1,400 feet.”

Caribou police are working with Caribou Public Works crews along with members of the Aroostook and Maine Emergency Management Agencies in an effort to accurately assess the situation and determine the best method of remedying the issue.

“We’re trying to get an engineer to come and look at it,” Gahagan said, adding that repairing the road would undoubtedly be a “major project.”

“It’s spreading out every day,” he said. “The whole bank is moving, and as it expands we will have to move the barricades back.”

City officials are closely monitoring the damage as it worsens, and Gahagan said he is fortunate to have the cooperation of city officials.

“We have other areas in the community where we’re seeing washouts, such as the Belanger Road,” the chief said. “We’re fortunate that our highway director and crew have been right on it, monitoring it with 24 hour coverage. Everyone out here has all been doing their part to keep the community safe.”

 

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