For immediate release
For information, contact:
Maria Fuentes 207-622-0526 or 207-592-0227
Paul Bradbury 207-874-8877 or 207-756-8029
Section of Route 201 winner of ‘Worst Road in Maine’
- Maine Scenic Byway wins top prize for going from ‘falling apart’ to ‘terrible.’
- Route 202 in Sanford, Route 1A in Fort Fairfield and Route 1 in Washington County are runners up.
William Jarvis of Jackman, Maine, won the grand prize for his entry, a 14.3-mile section of Route 201 that stretches from the town of Moose River to the border of Maine and Quebec, Canada. Jarvis, a forester and chief of the Jackman Fire & Rescue Department, frequently has to travel the route t
o reach land that he manages for clients and on his official duties for the town of Jackman. In talking about his entry, Jarvis noted that the road is a popular Maine Scenic Byway, and that the deteriorating condition of the road is more of a deterrent to local tourists. Jarvis has won the $529 grand prize – that is the amount researchers have estimated that every Maine resident pays in extra maintenance and repairs due to bad roads. The statewide total is $541 million.
This year the contest sponsor, the Maine Better Transportation Association (MBTA) decided to award three runner-up prizes of $176. “We had some incredible entries this year, and when it came down to it, we decided that we needed to recognize all four of these people and their stories of how bad roads affect their lives,” said MBTA President Paul Bradbury.
The runners up are: Craig Bartlett of Sanford for his nomination, Route 202 west of Sanford; Matt Beil of Limestone for Presque Isle Street / Route 1A in Fort Fairfield; and Caitlyn Roy of East Machias for U.S. Route 1 in Washington County from Chase Mills Road near Gardner Lake.
According to the most recent Maine Infrastructure Report Card issued by the Maine Section, ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), approximately 18 percent of Maine highways – or 1,530 out of 8,645 miles of state highway – are rated poor or worse.
To make progress fixing Maine’s highways, state-aid roads and bridges, it has been estimated the state needs $198 million in additional highway funding beyond the money raised by the gas tax, annual voter approved bonds (of $100 million) and other funding sources. The federal gas tax has not increased since 1992, and Maine’s state fuel tax has remained unchanged since 2011. A 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission began meeting earlier this fall to examine and propose solutions to the state’s perennial transportation funding shortfall. It is expected to deliver a report to Governor Janet Mills and the Maine Legislature during the 2020 legislative session.
Founded in 1939, MBTA is a 700-member organization dedicated to advocating for public investment Maine’s transportation infrastructure. For more information, visit MBTAonline.org.
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2019 WORST ROAD GRAND PRIZE WINNER: WILLIAM JARVIS of JACKMAN, MAINE
HIGHWAY NOMINATED: US Route 201 from the bridge over the Moose River in the Town of Jackman, north through the town of Moose River, Dennistown Plantation, and the unorganized township of Sandy Bay all the way to the Maine/Quebec border. 14.3 miles total.
MR. JARVIS WROTE: “This stretch of Route 201, a MaineDOT Priority Class 2 road, that is a federal aid highway and a National Scenic Byway, has been falling apart for many years, and is now is in terrible condition. The condition of the road is so bad that many people who have to travel on the road regularly have had to endure expensive vehicle repairs. Most of the road is a
55 mph zone. No one in their right mind drives anywhere near that speed. Trucks average about 35 mph. Desperately-needed repair work, which should have been undertaken many years ago but was not scheduled to begin until this year, has been postponed by the state until 2020. By next spring some sections of the road will be barely passable. If you do not have to travel on this road, do yourself a favor and do not. If you are planning on visiting Quebec, find another route. If you like riding on a rough road, then come and visit!”
ABOUT MR. JARVIS: Bill Jarvis is a professional forester and owner of Jarvis Forest Management, a business that manages forests for clients throughout western Maine. He also serves as chief of the Jackman-Moose River Fire & Rescue Department and is the emergency management director for the town of Jackman. He travels this route frequently for his business and in his work as head of the local volunteer fire and rescue department. Speaking recently about his entry, he said that the condition of the road definitely impacts local businesses, many of which rely on visitors who come to travel the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway. This route, he also pointed out, has long been popular with Mainers who have business or family across the border in Canada, and for many people those journeys have gotten longer as they have opted for other, longer and smoother routes to make those trips. He said: “If the weather’s good, it’s bad. If the weather’s bad, it’s terrible.”
2019 Worst Road in Maine Runners-Up
RUNNER UP: CRAIG BARTLETT of SANFORD, MAINE
HIGHWAY NOMINATED: Route 202 from Sanford heading west towards Lebanon.
MR. BARTLETT WROTE: “I had just bought a new used car and was using my old vehicle as a trade-in. As I was taking my old car over to be traded in and to pick up my new car, I hit a pothole on route 202 and blew out my tire. I had to have a tow company come and put a donut on so I could finish driving it [50 miles] to finish trading it in. I had to take $60 less on the trade-in because of the tire being blown. I was not very happy. But at least it didn’t happen to the new car I had just bought.”
ABOUT MR. BARTLETT: Craig Bartlett is a healthcare worker who also delivers orders for a Waterboro pizza restaurant. He travels “every single day” on that section of Route 202 as he drives his sister to school, because she currently does not have a vehicle of her own. He also drives on that road and others in the area that he says are in pretty tough shape, including sections of Route 5 in Waterboro where he makes a lot of pizza deliveries. Mr. Bartlett said that, while Route 202 is rough and the pothole that caused his tire to blow out this past spring has been filled for “not the first time,” the challenges of driving on rough roads is a big topic of discussion among people he knows. He noted that in the November 4 election, Sanford voters passed a $6.5 million local roads bond by a margin of 2-to-1.
RUNNER UP: MATT BEIL of LIMESTONE, MAINE
HIGHWAY NOMINATED: Presque Isle Street / Route 1A in Fort Fairfield by the Aroostook River Bridge, South Side.
MR. BEIL WROTE: “This “road” is more or less a gravel/crater pit at the time and getting worse with every strut and ball joint it destroys. Cars end up on the wrong side of the road in both directions as they try to avoid the potholes. It’s terrible.
ABOUT MR. BEIL: Matt Beil lives in Limestone and drives about 300 miles every week, including his daily commute to his job as a professional firefighter and EMT for the Presque Isle Fire Department. This stretch of Route 1A in Fort Fairfield is one of the worst he regularly travels when he is on duty for the city of Presque Isle. He said “It’s full of potholes and on Presque Isle Street, some are craters.” Driving it worries him every time, because it’s dangerous. “You have to move over into the other lane to avoid holes. All they have done is filled the holes with cold patch. They have tried to patch up as well as they can but you know it is going to be really bad again.”
RUNNER UP: CAITLYN ROY of EAST MACHIAS, MAINE
HIGHWAY NOMINATED: U.S. Route 1 in Washington County from Chase Mills Road near Gardner Lake past the water fall. The danger zone is right before the bridge and turn off for Washington Academy. MaineDOT was there frequently this past winter, and it didn’t help after the next rain or snow.
MRS. ROY WROTE: “This stretch on Route 1 has been horrible for the locals this year. We all know how bad it is just before the bridge, but our tires still pop. My daughter’s teacher has had two brand new tires blow this season. I’m nervous to bring my car to the garage because the alignment is off, and I think one of the wheel bearing and ball joints are loose. DOT continues to come and put a Band-Aid on it, but each time we have weather, it gets ripped up again. At least being local I know when to slow down to 15 mph, but these tourists that will be coming up soon are going to wreck their rentals. Please help!”
ABOUT MRS. ROY: Caitlyn Roy is a schoolteacher at Rose M. Gaffney Elementary School in Machias. She doesn’t drive much – she goes only about 10 miles to get to school and home. Her husband travels this route, as well, which is part of the most important road in Washington County. She said that many areas of Route 1 are not too bad but this section right after the bridge over the East Machias River, is plagued by runoff after almost every storm. In the winter, the runoff creates a ledge of ice, and it is hard for drivers to pass without having one tire on the ledge of ice and another one hitting a pothole. Throughout last winter, she saw three cars pulled over due to flat tires. MaineDOT has done some culvert work but is not planning to fix the road until 2020-2021.