A project designed to stabilize the bank of the Whittier Road in Farmington has hit some kinks a year after work was completed with far more plants dying on site than were allowed under the guidelines of a federal grant used to finance the project.

About 23 percent of the new plants on the embankment survived, but the grant stipulates the survival rate by year two is supposed to be 70 percent in order for the work to comply with the grant.

The embankment was rebuilt in the fall of 2013, three years after a 1,500-square-foot chunk of earth fell into the river during a storm. The damaged bank threatened the structure of the Whittier Road and prompted Farmington officials to reduce traffic to the far lane of the road.

Selectmen agreed at a Tuesday night meeting to fix the problem by replacing the plants, but the plan still needs to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Other than that, the project has held up really well,” said Town Manager Richard Davis.

The replanting plan is expected to be an inexpensive fix, said Davis.

He said planting is expected to happen in the spring with the labor being done by volunteers from possibly the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, University of Maine at Farmington and Foster Career and Technical Education Center.

The only expense would be the plants. Davis said he did not know how much the plants would cost, but one estimate he said he heard was for around $1,600.

The project, which cost a total of $452,072, was paid for in part by a grant from FEMA with the town paying 25 percent and FEMA paying 75 percent.

The original reconstruction effort involved adherence to federal regulations. Resulting time delays left town officials frustrated with the pace of the project, which was finished in September 2013.

After haggling between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an environmental consulting group hired by the town, an agreement was reached to stabilize the riverbank using a combination of boulders and layers of trees with the root wads still intact that would have vegetation planted over it.

Both groups agreed the structure was environmentally sound and would not harm the endangered Atlantic salmon in the Sandy River.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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