READFIELD — The town’s main thoroughfare will be closed for three days next week — and students will get a pass for being late to school — as repairs at the Readfield Depot railroad crossing are made.
The Maine Department of Transportation will update and repave the area where Route 17 crosses the Pan Am Railways tracks, creating a smoother ride for vehicles, said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the department.
The highway will be closed both day and night from Wednesday, Sept. 26, through Friday, Sept. 28. Traffic will be detoured around Maranacook Lake on routes 135, U.S. 202 and 41 through Manchester and Winthrop.
Town Manager Stefan Pakulski said officials were told about the closing two weeks ago and that it is likely to cause major disruptions for residents, particularly those commuting to Augusta or taking students to or from school.
The Maranacook high school and middle school are on Route 17 about a mile north of the railroad crossing, and Readfield Elementary is on South Road, just south of the crossing.
Regional School Unit 38 Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said the road work should not create problems for students from Mount Vernon or Wayne, but it will affect many Readfield Elementary students and middle and high school students from Readfield and Manchester.
Taking the detour will add 20 to 30 minutes to some bus runs, but Wolfrom said school officials did not want to change pickup times because they are so early already. Instead, students on those buses will be excused for arriving late. They also will arrive home later.
The schools will send details home with students.
“Thank goodness it’s only three days,” Wolfrom said. “Everybody’s got a positive attitude, and they realize there’s got to be work done on the tracks. Anyone who drives over, you know your car goes ‘bang-bang’ going over.”
Susan McMillan — 621-5645