Soderberg Construction of Caribou recently won a Build Maine Award for the Highway Division from the Maine Department of Transportation.
After an extreme weather event inundated northern Aroostook County with torrential rainfall and flash flooding last summer, a 40-foot section of U.S. Route 1 was washed out when a beaver dam burst upstream.
This section is a key north-south road linking Caribou to Van Buren, and a vital transportation route for locals commuting to work and school. Despite an aggressive schedule, supply chain issues, and additional weather issues, the company was able to open the road to traffic before the busy Fourth of July holiday.
The project inspired the collaboration between contractors around the state and the Maine DOT, which was crucial for the timely completion of this emergency repair.
Just days after the washout, Soderberg Construction Company was awarded the $2.3 million Emergency Large Culvert Replacement Project in Cyr Plantation.
When an alternative for metal piping was needed, neighboring Sargent Corporation offered their 180-by-12-by-14-foot concrete box culvert they had intended to use for a project in Brewer and Eddington in 2023. Keeley Crane Service transported 1.2 million pounds of box culvert to the site and set all 50 sections of the culvert in less than three days.
This was a team effort, with partners working in synchrony to open the road to traffic on July 1, said Maine DOT officials.
Detours increased the commute time for locals upwards of 30 minutes each way.
While school was still in session, the Soderberg crew paused all work briefly in the mornings and afternoons to assist two young students who lived nearby in crossing the river safely.
Crews had just 25 days to open the road to traffic. Additional heavy rain caused setbacks, but the Soderberg crew persevered, working long days to keep the project on track, officials said.
Maine DOT planned while the Soderberg crew used GPS to provide a topographic map of the existing road, culvert and streambed. The box culvert had to be placed 15 feet below the roadway with fill on top of it, which was not how it was originally designed. Thinking outside the box, department engineers sourced lightweight, flowable fill from New Brunswick.
Enormous pieces of pavement from the washout were discovered more than 100 feet downstream and more than 2,000 cubic yards of gravel washed into the stream. Soderberg worked with Maine DOT Environmental to remove the debris, regrade the streambed, and relocate the beavers whose dam had been destroyed upstream.
To help armor an upstream slope from future erosion, the crew also installed a large section of riprap.
Not only did the Soderberg Company complete the project ahead of schedule, but they accomplished this with no recordable injuries and no lost time, said DOT officials.
Repairing this road took over 3,850 hours, with Soderberg’s team coordinating personnel and equipment from all over Aroostook County.