UPPER ENCHANTED TOWNSHIP — There’s little hope that outside money can help pay for repairing private roads washed out during a major storm local, state and federal officials concluded after touring the network of severely damaged roads in northern Somerset County Monday morning.

Gov. Paul LePage referred a request for emergency help from the state for the Somerset County roads to Speaker of the House Mark Eves, with whom he is involved in an ongoing lawsuit, and accused Eves in a letter about the situation of being “not interested in properly funding bills that benefit the Maine people.”

The roads – which branch off private Spencer Road, which begins at U.S. Route 201 between Jackman and The Forks and crosses the county west into Franklin County – were damaged in June 28 flash flooding that washed out several miles of access points to camps, affecting more than 100 property owners in the area. But all of the roads are private, a fact that officials have previously said would make it hard to find additional funding to assist the local road associations.

Monday, more than three weeks after the floods, the roads – all of them dirt and gravel – were still blocked by large rocks and boulders in some parts, some impassable, ungraded, and new roadways skirted around dropoffs as steep as 30 feet where the road used to be.

“Sure it happens in other places, but I don’t think to this scale,” said Joe Gagnon, president of the Mile Ten Road Owners Association, which oversees maintenance on Old Spencer Road, where a roughly 30-foot deep dropoff remains near one section of patched-over dirt road. “I don’t know of another spot in Maine where there are this many private roads and they’ve seen this extent of damage.”

Monday’s visit from an engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture brought together several local and state officials to look into what many considered one of the only avenues available for outside assistance.


Meanwhile, a letter written in response to an inquiry from House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, and released by LePage’s office Monday said that while options under state law to repair and maintain private roads are limited, the state could make engineers and other staff from the Maine Department of Transportation available to provide assistance and advice on construction.

McCabe wrote to LePage earlier this month urging him to “do whatever you can” and to possibly declare a state of emergency for the Jackman region in response to the destruction of both state and private roads in the area because of the flash floods, which were caused by torrential rain. In addition to the damage on private roads, the Parlin Pond bridge on U.S. Route 201 was washed out when more than seven inches of rain fell in four hours June 28.

LePage said he would be willing to call the Legislature back to fund an emergency bill to provide financial assistance and relief in Somerset County, but that the request would have to go through Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, whom LePage said “has made it very clear he is not interested in properly funding bills that benefit the Maine people, especially if the Governor asks him to do so.”

But Eves said that McCabe and LePage should be able to work it out.

“To date the governor has not reached out to me to discuss Rep. McCabe’s concerns about the conditions of the washed-out roads in Somerset County,” Eves said in an emailed statement Monday evening. “I encourage the governor to sit down with Rep. McCabe to work towards a solution for the people affected in Somerset County.

“Rep. McCabe understands the needs of these communities. I think together they could come up with a solid plan to address the immediate concerns and ongoing challenges faced by rural areas of our state.”


“A lot of owners have been really patient and understanding, but there’s going to come a point where they get really antsy,” said Russ Flagg, a member of the board of directors for the Mile Ten Road Owners Association. “We want to get everything done as soon as possible.”

The association is one of three major road associations in the area that sustained the worst damage.

Flagg estimated Monday that the association spent about $6,000 on road maintenance before the June storm and has since then spent about another $6,000 to get some of the roads passable.

Blaine Miller, president of Dirigo Timberlands, which has a contract with the road owners association for maintenance, Monday estimated the cost of repairs at a conservative $70,000 to $100,000. There are 74 property owners in the Mile Ten Road Owners Association.

The total cost could be borne by association members, who pay about $200 annually in dues, according to Gagnon, but it might be a hardship for some, he said. In addition, state law prohibits road associations from charging more than 1 percent of a landowner’s municipal property valuation in a calendar year.

“Probably about one-third of people would have an issue with it,” Gagnon said. “You think that with a second home they would be able to afford it, but that’s not always the case.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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