Residents along Grand Isle road fed up with lack of maintenance

1 month ago

CARIBOU, Maine – Aroostook County Commissioners will hold a public hearing next month regarding the condition of the Grivois Road in Grand Isle, which became so impassable earlier this year that two families were stranded in their homes for several days, according to a petition signed by residents.

Petitioners say the road in the town of approximately 360 people has not been properly maintained. The hearing will take place at the Grand Isle Town Office on August 7.

The matter was brought to the commissioners via a petition signed by residents who live either on the Grivois Road or the adjacent Parent Road. A total of 11 people signed the petition.

The petition asserts that the town has neglected its responsibility to maintain the road, and it is now no longer safe or convenient for travelers. 

On March 10, approximately six inches of snow fell after a prolonged thaw that caused deep mud ruts along significant portions of the last mile of Grivois Road, according to the petition. “The town refused to plow this portion of the road for fear of getting the town’s vehicle stuck and/or damaged,” the petition states.

Two families were stranded at the end of the road for several days until the snow melted enough for them to get out, according to the petition. 

The petition also cited that the post office has stopped delivering mail along the last mile of the approximately 3 1/2-mile long road, out of fear of getting stuck or damaging its vehicles.

CARIBOU, Maine — June 18, 2024 — The Aroostook County Commissioners are pictured here during a June 18 meeting. (Chris Bouchard | St. John Valley Times)

County Administrator Ryan Pelletier said he drove the length of the road and filmed everything with his phone to ensure he has a record of its condition. He said the issue appears to be of greatest concern during the spring months.

“The road is certainly passable today,” he said. “There are no ruts or standing water.”

The petition stated that residents have asked the town to work on the road, but no commitments were made. The commissioners, after the upcoming public hearing, have the authority to direct the town to make repairs under state law.

One resident at the meeting said that the issue seems to come down to a lack of town funding, and added that there is hardly any work being done on the road.

GRAND ISLE, Maine — June 18, 2024 — This picture of the Grivois Road, taken earlier this year, was included in a petition by residents to the Aroostook County Commissioners to hold a public hearing regarding the state of the road.

“I’ve been there for 14 years, and this is the worst I’ve seen it,” he said.

Another resident in attendance said spring is the most dangerous time on the road. 

“In the past, there had not been full-time residents past a certain point,” she said. “Now, there are numerous full-time residents, including myself, with children.”

Pelletier asked Grand Isle Selectman Raylan Lagasse, who was also in attendance, if the town maintains the entire length of the road. Lagasse said they do not, and that they recently added another mile after a new property owner agreed to create a turnaround for the plow truck.

“This past winter was the second winter that that section of the road had been open in some years,” Lagasse said. “Beyond that, it has always been closed just prior to that section of road.”

He added that many of the road’s worst areas are contained within that additional mile. He agreed that the road was particularly rough this past spring.

“The road became soup,” he said. “I mean, I didn’t dare to go through it in my Durango, I’m not going to lie. I think it turned out really bad.”

He said Public Works dumped some shale into holes in the road, and that since then the road has been graded twice – once before the frost let go and once after. He said the town worked with a contractor to pitch a section of the road last year, which they plan to continue this year. 

Beyond this additional mile, Lagasse said the road is closed during the winter. It eventually goes into Van Buren. He said Van Buren keeps its portion of this road closed during the winter as well.

Aroostook County Community Services Director Paul Bernier asked Lagasse how many town public works employees were in Grand Isle, and Lagasse said they just have one. The department’s entire budget is about $15,000, he added.

The upcoming public hearing will take place at 4 p.m. in Grand Isle’s town office on 366 Main Street. It will begin with a tour of the road itself, after which officials will return to the town office and begin the meeting.