NORTH WINDHAM – Within a week, the Maine Department of Transportation may have the answer for what is causing the reappearance of ruts along the newly reconstructed portion of Route 302 in North Windham, said transportation department project manager Denis Lovely Wednesday.

State crews spent two hours Wednesday morning working in a turning lane at the busy intersection of routes 115 and 35. They were taking core samples of pavement to be sent to a Freeport laboratory for analysis.

Issues identified two weeks ago by town staff spurred department crews to take samples Wednesday, Lovely said. The reappearance of ruts, he said, was noticed particularly at the intersections “where traffic stops and goes.”

The $1.1 million reconstruction project, known as a “mill-and-fill” project, was completed by Pike Industries and overseen by the state in mid-August. The project began July 14 and lasted six weeks, with crews working at night to replace the top layer of pavement, Lovely said.

At a Windham Town Council meeting two weeks ago, Town Manager Tony Plante said he and other councilors drive Route 302 frequently and noticed pavement grooves and wash boarding along the reconstructed roadway from the routes 115 and 35 intersection to the Whites Bridge Road intersection, a distance of 1.16 miles.

By drilling through 15 inches of the asphalt with a 4- to 5-inch-diameter drill bit attached to a coring machine, crews are able to diagnose which layer of pavement is failing, Lovely said.

The work, which lasted two hours, began around 10 a.m. in front of Walgreens with about eight transportation department crewmembers on-site. Within a half-hour, the group was able to pull up two, 15-inch-deep cores of asphalt.

According to Lovely, the cores are then laid on the ground and a worker marks each layer, built up over time, with yellow chalk.

Polyphosphoric acid was added to the liquid asphalt mixture that was applied to Route 302 by Pike Industries crews this summer, which stiffens the mixture. The desired end result is fewer ruts, Lovely said.

“It’s always worked great for us in the past, and there is no reason to believe it wouldn’t work for us here,” Lovely said, frustrated that the recent repair is faulty.

Lovely said the crew’s goal Wednesday was to extract from the intersection between six to nine cores of pavement, some from the center of the grooves and others from spaces in between.

“This is uncommon,” Lovely said, when asked whether core sampling is a typical follow-up procedure to state reconstruction projects. “This is not normal at all.”

Maine Department of Transportation engineers Brian Luce, right, and Derek Nener-Plante examine cores of pavement extracted from Route 302 on Wednesday.A turning lane located at the intersection of routes 115 and 35 in North Windham was closed for two hours Wednesday while Maine Department of Transportation crews took samples of pavement.

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