RAYMOND – Maine Department of Transportation officials assessed the condition of Route 85 in Raymond last Friday, confirming something local drivers have long known: the road’s top surface is peeling away from the base layer, a condition known as delamination, and is need of repair.

According to Dennis Lovely, project manager for the DOT, crews will be out within 30 days to repair the severe rutting, potholes and areas that have peeled. Some of the stretches of rough road run for hundreds of yards along Route 85, from Route 302 to Route 11 in Casco. While drivers tend to weave to avoid the ruts, sometimes coming close to the roadside ditches in the process, local and state transportation officials report no accidents have yet been attributed to the poor road conditions.

The transportation department splits Route 85, also known as Webbs Mills Road, into two segments. Segment No. 1 runs from Route 302 to Raymond Hill Road. Segment No. 2 runs from Raymond Hill Road to Route 11 in Casco. Segment No. 2 was paved with a 5/8-inch layer of pavement last year, and Lovely said the department considered paving Segment No. 1 but ran out of money.

The lower half of Route 85 last received a surface treatment between 2000 and 2004. While crews will do spot repair this season, a full repaving job on Segment No. 1 is scheduled for 2014, Lovely said.

“Next year it is scheduled for LCP [light capital pavement]. It is planned. It is a go,” Lovely said.

The 2014 light capital pavement work, which will spread a 5/8-inch-thick top coat of pavement across the entire length of Segment No. 1, is meant as “a holding action for roads that might be delaminated, pot-holed, rutting, but we know we have to do something to make the ride and the maintenance costs a little bit better until we can get a good pavement job on it,” Lovely said.

The news of some road repair will likely please motorists along the road. Alan Whitten, owner of Raymond-based Alan Whitten Excavating, owns three trucks and travels Route 85 regularly delivering product to job sites. He is worried for his drivers’ safety.

“The trouble we have is we’re forced to try to miss as many of the holes as we can so we’re kind of straddling them because we’re too big to fit between the holes and the yellow line, so we’re running near the edge of the road. I’m afraid that one slip and one of the drivers will go off the side of the road,” Whitten said, adding, “The whole town complains about it.”

Louise Lester, Raymond town clerk, said many town hall visitors have the road on their mind when they come in to pay vehicle-related taxes.

“When people come in to register their vehicle, they might comment about it. We get questions about who’s responsible and, of course, we have to refer them to the state,” Lester said.

The significant delamination on Route 85 could have been caused, Lovely said, by a number of factors. Water could have seeped in while the top layer was paved, preventing the layer from adhering properly to the base layer. Also, sometimes dirt can prevent the tack, or glue, a paving crew puts down prior to laying the topcoat from working.

Lovely said Route 85’s delamination is worse than usual, however.

“I wouldn’t call this one normal. I mean, delamination happens. This might be a little worse than most,” he said.

Raymond’s public works director, Nathan White, is glad to hear some action will be taken soon, the paving work is still long past due.

“It started about three years ago, and it’s getting worse every year,” White said. “Once it starts, the water gets underneath and that freeze-thaw cycle happens and it keeps popping it up like floor tiles basically.”

White said the cause of the problem originated with the state’s initial paving job, which placed a single layer of pavement in three sections from 2000 to 2004.

“They put the pavement down too thin trying to go too far with it and the base starts moving around and just pops it off,” White said.

White’s crew plows Route 85 in the winter, even though it is a state road. Plowing the road has become a hazard in itself due to the rutting and potholing.

“You’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to pay attention to where you are with the truck and the wing, to keep the wing from biting in,” White said. “The plow’s a straight-edge, and you’re trying to plow ruts. It’s so out of shape that you can’t get that slushy stuff out of the road. So that’s one of our hardest roads to get clean. And Egypt Road, as well, because they’re both in such disrepair.”

Much of the peeling roadway can be found in small chunks on the shoulders, and on plow trucks even, White said.

“Actually when the big plow trucks grab into it, when you wash the trucks the next day, you’re washing asphalt off the hood of the truck. Blows it right up on the hood of the truck for some reason if you bite into it enough. So it damages the trucks, it’s hard on the drivers. It’s all around bad,” White said.

“And I’m prepared, if they don’t take care of it, to start pushing for them to do the winter maintenance on it. It’s getting that bad,” White said, referring to the state.

White, who’s received dozens of complaints and inquiries about the road, said the thin pavement layer may look good and provides motorists a smooth ride for a season, but it quickly disintegrates.

“The problem with DOT’s fix is they’re going to come out and put down what we call political mix because it only lasts one season,” White said.

He said the Casco end of Route 85, “which they did last summer, it’s starting to peel. It’s falling apart. It’s a waste of money.”

He said the problem with the 5/8-inch layer is that it’s only a “sand and asphalt mix, it’s got no real big aggregate in it, but it allows them to put it down at 5/8th of an inch, and its original design was to seal up a decent road. And when DOT started getting hard up for money, rather than doing a full inch or 11?2-inch overlay, they started going to this mulch mix, they call it, and we just nicknamed it political mix because it looks great to the untrained eye. Holy Cow, they paved 20 miles of my town this year DOT did. Well, wait until next year when it’s all stacked up on your lawn. So they haven’t fixed anything, they’ve just spent money.”

Lovely said ideally, the state could do full reconstruction on all problematic roads, but the budget isn’t available, especially in recent years.

“We have so many miles of road. If we were going to pave everything to a full-depth nice paving job we might only get about 50 miles of road done a year,” Lovely said. “And obviously if we try to do everything to a top-notch paving job, we’d never be able to address all the roads in the region. So we try to budget wisely so we’re doing some nice paving jobs but we’re also doing a holding action on other jobs to hold them together so it is drivable until we can get back there with enough money to do a good paving job. It’s kind of a balance.”

Route 85 in Raymond has a serious case of delamination that has gotten progressively worse after each winter season. The Maine Department of Transportation is set to do light paving work this season with plans for more significant paving in 2014.

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