FARMINGDALE — The contractor responsible for paving on Northern Avenue has called assessments by the town’s selectmen, who said the work has created a dangerous portion of the road, “ludicrous.”

C.H. Stevenson Project Manager Adam Lake said Friday his company’s work has been scrutinized too heavily by town officials, but he noted it is in the process of correcting the flaw raised by town officials.

Lake’s response came after a Kennebec Journal report Thursday that town officials believed a divot in the road, which was paved by a subcontractor hired by C.H. Stevenson, could cause vehicles to be driven into the oncoming lane. On Wednesday, selectmen agreed to tell the Wayne-based contractor to remove improper materials used on the job and correct the work as laid out in the contract. A memo to that effect was sent out Friday, with a Nov. 14 deadline for the fix to be completed.

Payment in the amount of $46,350 has been withheld pending completion.

The memo orders C.H. Stevenson to remove existing 12.5-millimeter asphalt, replace it with 19-millimeter and pave the surface with 9.5-millimeter asphalt. The board also invited the contractor to a Nov. 7 meeting.

Lake said he switched to the 12.5-millimeter asphalt, not using the 19-millimeter variety called for in the contract, because that is what “the industry standard” is when leaving binder on during the winter.

“Whenever we leave binder over the winter — no matter what — we use 12.5 (-millimeter),” he said Friday.

He said the difference between the two varieties is the size of the stones used in the mix. He said the 19-millimeter variety leaves more space for liquid to seep in, which could lead to cracking when the moisture freezes. Lake said the 12.5-millimeter pavement is the best option for the upcoming winter.

With regard to the 9.5-millimeter surface coat, Lake said that he was instructed to leave it off because the town, in July, was advertising a job to pave parts of Northern Avenue that included the section between Lindsey Lane and Rutabeggar Lane.

Town Clerk Rose Webster said no bids were received for the project and it was abandoned.

“We were not going to pave at all because the town was going to grind and pave the rest of the road,” Lake said. “Then it was decided to only put the base down and leave the grade down (1 inch).

“Then after all the gravel work was done, the town could not get a contractor to do the grinding (and) overlay,” he added, “so I was asked to bring the binder up to the surface grade.”

Road Commissioner Steve Stratton said he informed Lake of the changes to plans, but it was possible that some details about the project could have been lost among the changes.

C.H. Stevenson was awarded the contract to undertake “drainage modifications” on that stretch of road, based on a $37,025 bid back in February 2017, but delays pushed the project back. When the project was picked up again this year, a new bid was submitted in the amount of $46,350, which Webster attributed to the rising cost of materials.

The section of Northern Avenue in question is westbound, with a slight right turn between Lindsey Lane and Rutabeggar Lane. Stratton said a divot near the seam of the new pavement and the old pavement rocks cars from right to left and toward the center of the road.

“When you hit it at 30 (or) 40 miles per hour, it’ll make you dart left into the centerline,” he said. “It could be dangerous for an inexperienced driver in snowy or icy conditions.”

Stratton said Friday he approached Lake about the potentially dangerous road because a large number of residents and area drivers approached him about it.

“My comment was that the general public thinks it’s unsafe,” he said Wednesday. “When you get complaints like that, I’ve got to step into the picture.”

Lake, who met with Stratton on Wednesday at the site, said he did not agree with the road commissioner’s assessment.

“I checked the grades (Wednesday) on the project, and they are all very close to the design,” he said in an email to selectmen Wednesday. “I also watched traffic for about an hour (and) I would hardly call it a dangerous situation.”

Lake also took issue with the town’s request to rip up all of the pavement because it is not what was in the contract. He said tearing up and repaving the section of road would take only a day or two, but he couldn’t understand ripping out “perfectly good” pavement.

Stratton said selectmen just want C.H. Stevenson to adhere to the contract.

“(The selectboard) wants to tear it up because there was no 19-millimeter binder underneath (the 12.5-millimeter),” he said. “Generally speaking, you will get a 19-millimeter binder to put over the gravel, then you go over it with the 12.5 (-millimeter), then you finish it off with the 9.5 (-millimeter).”

No date has yet been set for C.H. Stevenson to come back to fix the road.

Lake’s Wednesday email stated plans were in motion to fix that portion of the road.

“I (can’t) be sure if the grader operator put the dips (or) humps in the road or the paver,” he said. “Either way, I agree that it needs to be fixed.

“I have marked out the area that needs to be cut out and redone,” Lake added.

Another sticking point is that the contract C.H. Stevenson was sent did not include the town’s typical wording. Usually those include three options for Farmingdale to remedy work not done to their standard. The options include terminating the contract and paying for all work deemed “satisfactorily complete” with reallocation of the funds to hire another contractor to finish the job, substituting in a new contractor to finish the project, or undertaking legal action to force the original contractor to finish the work and pay for the town’s legal fees.

The Kennebec Journal reviewed the contract Friday, finding that clause was not part of what was sent to C.H. Stevenson. Webster said the contract was written by the project’s engineers, E.S. Coffin Engineering and Surveying, and the town did not add anything to it, aside from dimensional and material standards.

The contract does contain a performance bond to cover problems of incomplete work, which says the town can catalogue the work already done, pay the contractor for only that work and hire the job out to another contractor, or the contractor can hire its own relief.

Lake said his company already should have been paid for the drainage aspect of the job, which has not been scrutinized at public meetings.

“The entire paving portion of the project was only worth (about) $15,000 and the town is holding the entire contract amount on a bonded job; so if we are going to start talking about filing suit, let’s start there,” Lake said in his email to selectmen. “We are all frustrated with how these two projects have progressed, but an invite to a selectman’s meeting is hardly a notification of deficiencies.”

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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