HOULTON, Maine — The town of Houlton has accepted $585,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the town’s Morningstar Road culvert replacement/upsizing project, the Houlton council announced during its meeting Monday.
The culvert at Moose Brook has been in a state of deterioration for many years, with efforts to replace it taking place over the past decade. A 2014 inspection found the culvert to be distorted, a 20-foot continuous crack in the boltline as well as cracks in the road due to culvert movement.
The town had previously received a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection for $95,000 to go toward the project last year. The Houlton Band of Maliseets have also pitched in to help with the project by securing grants and funding.
As the total estimated cost of the project is expected to be in the $700,000-$800,000 range, the FEMA grant is likely to further expedite the project.
“Many of you have been working on this project before my arrival here,” Town Manager Marian Anderson said. “It is truly a wonderful partnership with the Maliseets, with FEMA, with the natural resources folks. There are a lot of parties that are providing funds for this important project to happen.”
“This is really amazing news,” Councilperson Sue Tortello said. “In a year that hasn’t had a whole lot to celebrate, this is something to celebrate.”
Tortello said the project would help reclaim access to the Tate and Lyle Ingredients plant, which is one of the major employers for the town, as well as allow fish to travel freely into the Meduxnekeag River.
“I really perceive a lot of folks coming up here to take a look at this project to see how it is and how it works,” she said. “Hopefully it will be replicated in other places, so it’s a good opportunity for Houlton to showcase projects like this.”