FARMINGTON — The town plans to move ahead with plans to reconstruct a section of U.S. Route 2 that were put on hold earlier in the year in anticipation that construction of a natural gas pipeline would tear up the same section of road.

Summit Natural Gas of Maine, the company that recently completed a 68-mile natural gas pipeline stretching from Pittston to Madison, last month notified the University of Maine at Farmington that the gas company would not be able to fulfill a commitment to bring natural gas to the university by 2016, prompting the university to explore other options to reduce its reliance on heating oil.

The company has said it will not provide natural gas to residents and businesses in Franklin County if UMF, the largest potential customer in the county, does not agree to buy natural gas.

“I think you all know there’s been enough issues with Summit that it looks like we can’t count on (the pipeline coming),” Town Manager Richard Davis said Tuesday night during a selectmen’s meeting.

The board voted 3-0 to have Davis contact the Maine Department of Transportation, which is overseeing and funding the project on U.S. 2, also known as Wilton Road, and authorize the department to go ahead with the project. About three miles from Center Bridge to the intersection of Route 133 would be repaved.

The project originally was scheduled for 2016, but selectmen decided in August to delay the construction in hopes of avoiding a scheduling conflict with Summit. Their decision Tuesday comes one day before UMF plans to host an energy forum to discuss ways to reduce its reliance on heating oil and move toward using more efficient sources of heating if it is unable to connect to natural gas.

“I’m of the opinion that we ought to go ahead and pave it. I understand there is a traffic pattern study that also needs to be done, and there needs to be time to do that,” Selectman Andrew Buckland said. The benefit of paving the road now outweighs any costs the town would incur from re-paving following the addition of the pipeline, if it happens, he said.

“The townspeople are hooting and hollering to fix that road,” Selectman Michael Fogg said. “I agree that it’s too far down the road to know when natural gas will come, so let’s fix the road. Let’s do it tomorrow.”

Davis said he wasn’t sure what the time line for the project would be now and would have to check with the DOT.

Ryan Morgan, the board chairman charged last week with domestic violence assault, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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