MONMOUTH — Town officials have closed Sanborn Road to through traffic after a culvert that’s old, rusty and besieged by large rodents backed up during the recent days of heavy rain.

That culvert lies near Route 135, at the northern end of Sanborn Road. It allows water from a creek to flow under the road and into Jug Stream.

But town officials say the culvert’s integrity has been compromised by several factors, including recent flooding that followed a couple days of steady rain.

In fact, the town hopes to replace that culvert soon, and the Board of Selectman was planning to ask voters to approve the project — specifically, the $90,000 it will cost local taxpayers — at Town Meeting this June.

The replacement’s total cost actually would be about $180,000, but the state has awarded the town a $90,000 matching grant, according to Town Manager Curt Lunt.

The work could happen later this year if voters approve it, Lunt said. The new pipe would have a larger diameter, meaning that it would be less susceptible to seasonal flooding and wash-outs.

In the meantime, officials have closed the road to through traffic and placed barricades on either side of the culvert.

They plan to leave them there until water level drops and they can inspect the damage from the recent precipitation.

The current culvert is at least 50 years old and rusted out at the bottom, so water can leak out of it and erode the ground beneath it.

The road has sunk in the past, and if the recent damage was serious enough, it could collapse when a car drives over it, according to Lunt.

“It’s a pretty old culvert,” he said. “It’s undersized, and that’s a pretty big wetlands area. When snow melts, it can’t handle all the flow. We’re worried about it undermining road. It looks like you can drive through, but sometimes it can break through.”

The culvert also can be clogged by wildlife that call that part of Monmouth home.

“That area is plagued with beavers,” said Bruce Balfour, the town’s public works director. “Over the last three weeks, we’ve been pulling brush out quite often. They work faster than we can.”

As the rain happened over a long holiday weekend, public works crews weren’t able to keep up with any dams the beavers may have built, Balfour said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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