RICHMOND — Town officials were surprised to learn this week that Route 197 – the heavily traveled main route from Interstate 295 into Richmond – will be closed for up to five days in mid-August.

The state Department of Transportation plans to replace a large culvert where Route 197 passes over Baker Brook, just before the Richmond Business and Manufacturing Center.

Local officials don’t dispute the work needs to be done – pavement at the site is eroded and crumbling – but they would liked to have known in advance.

And they’d prefer at least one lane be kept open to traffic.

“We received no notification,” Town Manager Marian Anderson said. “They haven’t notified the town, businesses … no one.”

The work is scheduled to take between three and five days and be done between Aug. 16 and 20, according to Richmond Police Chief Scott MacMaster.


Anderson said town officials only heard about the project by chance on Monday.

Richmond Utilities District employees working on Route 197 saw an engineer from the transportation department at the site and asked what he was doing .

.”Notification could have been done better,” Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Latti said. “We’re looking at the project to see if it can be delayed, so we can get better word out to people and businesses in that area. We’re also looking to see if the condition of that culvert could withstand the project being postponed.”

Fire Chief Andrew Pierce said detouring around the worksite could mean a seven-mile detour for an emergency vehicle, according to Anderson.

State Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, said he has met with Department of Transportation Commissioner David Cole, who apologized and said the agency made a mistake by not properly notifying locals.

He also asked Cole to review the project to see if there is any way one travel lane can be kept open to traffic.


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