FARMINGTON — Construction workers began stockpiling materials and equipment today forlong-awaited construction to protect Whittier Road by stabilizing the Sandy River bank.

Workers at the construction site said they expect to start the heavier work on the project Tuesday.

The portion of Whittier Road along the unstable part of the slope will be closed until at least the end of the month because of construction, according to Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis.

Davis said all work in the river will need to happen before Sept. 30, according to federal regulations geared toward protecting endangered Atlantic salmon. However, Davis said construction work taking place higher up along the embankment may continue into October.

In November, town officials decided to close the road but then re-opened it to one lane after receiving complaints about the four-mile detour. The town at one point during the three-week closure had police enforce the closure after receiving complaints from residents about people driving on their lawns while going around the barricades blocking the road.

Davis said the town will probably again receive complaints yet about the road being closed, but he said it needs to be closed for the construction work.

“We really don’t have any other option,” he said.

Officials originally expected construction to start in August, but Davis said the start date was pushed back while they obtained the permits for the work from all involved federal agencies.

The town has been trying to stabilize the bank since August 2011, when a storm caused a 50-foot-wide, 300-foot-long chunk of earth on the riverbank to fall into the river.

The bank has eroded to within 30 feet of the road, threatening to collapse it if the bank is not stabilized.

Local contractor E.L. Vining & Son, which won the bid for the stabilization project, will use a mix of boulders and trees with the rootwads still intact as elements of an environmentally friendly structure.

Davis said previously that the project eventually will amass debris floating downstream and naturally add more material to the stabilized embankment.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]