Friday, June 28, 2019

Reconstruction and maintenance to begin on River Road - historical sites preserved

Historical Lot Marker #1 will stay put
By Lorraine Glowczak

Although the exact schedule and start date has yet to be determined, the River Road reconstruction project, which has been awarded to Shaw Brothers Construction, will begin soon. The area of River Road to receive the update includes the Doles Bridge over the Colley Wright Brook as well as a 3 mile stretch of the road, beginning at the Westbrook line and extending north. The entire project is scheduled to last two years with the completion date set at June 19, 2021.

As the reconstruction and widening has been discussed over the past four years, concerns regarding the many historical sites along that portion of River Road have been expressed to representatives of both the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Windham Delegation by members of the Windham Historical Society (WHS).

In his September 15, 2015 article in The Windham Eagle, reporter and WHS member, Walter Lunt stated that historical sites such as Old Province Fort archaeological dig and the cornerstone Lot 1 marker were among the greatest concerns. “Local historians believe the [archaeological] site is located under the roadway at the top of a hill near the intersection with Anderson Road,” Lunt said in that article. “Society records, two previous archaeological investigations and an educated historical hunch suggested that the middle of the road might be the spot, according to WHS former president Linda Griffin. One dig, in 1982, produced animal bones (possibly a midden, or mounded food remains) and a foreign coin. Griffin said, ‘This road construction may be the only chance we’ll ever have to find the exact location of the fort and learn how the settlers lived during those troubling times.”’
An archeological dig at Old Province Fort is scheduled to begin next month on July 29 and last eight to 10 weeks. In a recent email to Rep. Mark Bryant by MDOT representative, Meghan Russo, stated that tree clearing will begin soon, and temporary traffic signals will be installed along with crash barriers and signage around the archaeological dig area.

“The Lot #1 Marker has been surveyed in its exact location and will remain at this location when the project is completed,” Russo said. “A design exception was granted for the Lot #1 marker to remain as it is just on the edge of the clear zone. It is included on the design plans to not move the Marker. The Marker is just north of the Doles Bridge (Colley Wright Brook). The contractor also may do some of the drainage cross pipes that go under the road this year.” a piece of Windham’s history has been considered throughout the entire discussion and process of the River Road construction plans - and important historical sites of Windham are being preserved. “I have been impressed with the MDOT’s thoughtful and thorough approach to listening and working with the community when it comes to road reconstruction and maintenance projects,” stated Rep. Mark Bryant

Walter Lunt is also pleased with the outcome. “As a longtime advocate for keeping the Lot #1 Marker in place, I am more than please to hear this news. Tradition has it that this stone must never be moved.”

And thus, progress and historical preservation work together for future generations.

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