After an extreme weather event inundated Northern Aroostook County with torrential rainfall and flash flooding, a 40-foot section of U.S. Highway 1 was washed out when a beaver dam burst upstream. This section is a key north-south road linking Caribou to Van Buren, and a vital transportation route for locals commuting to work and school. Just days after the washout, Soderberg Construction Company was awarded the $2.3 million Emergency Large Culvert Replacement Project in Cyr Plantation. Despite an aggressive schedule, supply chain issues, and additional weather issues, Soderberg Construction was able to open the road to traffic before the busy Fourth of July holiday.
The project inspired the collaboration between contractors around the state and the Maine DOT, which was crucial for the timely completion of this emergency repair. When an alternative for metal piping was needed, neighboring Sargent Corporation offered their 180-foot-long by 12-foot-wide by 14-foot-tall concrete box culvert they had intended to use for a project in Brewer and Eddington in 2023. Keeley Crane Service not only transported 1.2 million pounds of box culvert to the site, but also set all 50 sections of the culvert in less than three days. This was a team effort with partners working in synchrony to open the road to traffic on July 1st.
Soderberg was dedicated to supporting the community and limiting disruptions when possible. The damaged roadway is a valuable route for the community, essential for daily travel to work and school, as well as a direct access point to the Canadian border. Detours increased the commute time for locals upwards of 30 minutes each way. While school was still in session, the Soderberg crew helped two young students who lived close to the project. Each day, the crew paused all work for a brief moment in the morning and afternoon to assist the children in crossing the river downstream to make it to their school bus safely
INNOVATION & CHALLENGES
Recognizing the dire need of replacing this road, crews had just 25 calendar days to open it to traffic. Teams immediately began to mobilize and form plans. Additional heavy rain caused setbacks to the project, but the Soderberg crew persevered, working long days to keep the project on track.
Maine DOT worked to create plans while the Soderberg crew used Trimble GPS to provide a topographic map of the existing road, culvert, and streambed. After sourcing a box culvert from a neighboring contractor, the crew had to get creative for the culvert to meet their project’s needs. The culvert had to be placed 15 feet below the roadway with fill on top of it, which was not how it was originally designed. Thinking outside the box, the engineers at Maine DOT sourced lightweight, flowable fill from New Brunswick, Canada.
ENVIRONMENT & SAFETY
Enormous pieces of pavement from the washout were discovered more than 100 feet downstream and over 2,000 cubic yards of gravel was washed into the stream as well. Soderberg worked with Maine DOT Environmental to remove the debris, regrade the streambed, and relocate the beavers whose dam had been destroyed upstream. To help armor an upstream slope from future erosion, the crew also installed a large section of riprap.
Not only did the Soderberg Company complete the project ahead of schedule, but they accomplished this with no recordable injuries and no lost time. Repairing this road took over 3,850 hours, with Soderberg’s team coordinating personnel and equipment from all over Aroostook County. Through teamwork and dedication, the project was completed safely and efficiently.
To see the project video – https://youtu.be/2h9yA_R3Ldc
Owner: Maine Department of Transportation
Construction Manager: Soderberg Company, Inc.
Scott Gove, Project Manager
Eric Landeen, Project Superintendent
Tim Deschenes, Project Layout
Engineer: Maine Department of Transportation
Keeley Crane Services
Beton Brunswick, Ltd.