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Unread 01-25-2012, 09:41 PM
 
Location: Jersey City
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Default State Highways and Snow Treatment

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to drive up from NJ to Rangeley on Friday and some snow is in the forecast (~4 inches, no big deal). I'm planning to take Route 16 up from Berlin, NH (looks like a beautiful drive according to Google maps). I've never been to Rangeley, and never driven on Route 16 before. I will be driving a Nissan Sentra and no snow tires. Does MEDOT keep the roads fairly clear during snowstorms, or are rural state highways generally not treated or plowed until well after the snow stops falling? It appears the road is windy, but not too much change in elevation. Is this route particularly treacherous?

Any information or experience you all could share would be much appreciated. And some peace of mind or advice would help! I'm looking forward to spending a few days in such a beautiful, peaceful retreat!!
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Unread 01-26-2012, 12:24 AM
 
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Route 16 from Errol, NH to Rangeley is one of the most isolated and low-traveled roads in that part of Maine, excepting the private logging roads (of which there are quite a bit to the north of Rt. 16 too.) Rt. 16 usually still has a thin covering of snow on it days after a snow storm. Then too, that part of Maine sees near constant snow flurries due to the hilly, mountainous topography if the wind is out of the northwest. It's a very dark road at night too. There are only a couple of settled spots, (I wouldn't even call them villages.) I'm not sure how big the cell phone coverage gaps are either. The last time I drove that road was some years ago and cell coverage *might* be a bit better, but I doubt it. You stand a fair chance of spotting a moose or two as well.

I'm not trying to scare you, but it is fairly close to a wilderness ride. (But it's actually not true wilderness as most all the surrounding land is pulp wood land for mills such as the one down in Rumford.)

I've done that road in a 1980s VW Rabbit with regular tires and I've done it in a 4X4 pickup with mud/snow tires, nearly always in the dead of winter and several times at night. I've made okay with both vehicles, but there wasn't as much room for error with the car, especially if I pulled over anywhere.

If it were me, I'd still do it in your car, unless the snow is coming down pretty good. If worst comes to worst, you can always turn around, head back down Rt. 2 to Rumford, then back up Rt. 17, only that road north of Byron is pretty wild too for a bit, especially as it clings to the hill sides approaching Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The plus to going Rt. 17 is a scenic view pullout near the highest elevation of the pass called Height of Land, where, if it isn't snowing and the visibility is good, there is a spectacular view of Mooselookmeguntic and the mountains of extreme northern NH and northwestern ME as a back drop. Having that detour forced on you will add a couple of hours to your Rangeley arrival at the very least, however.

If driving either Rt. 16 or 17, or Rt. 4 from the east, for that matter, especially in the late afternoon to evening, keep a close eye out for those moose. All the near collisions I've ever had, happened in that part of the world. Rangeley has to be second only to the Jackman area for moose activity.
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Unread 01-26-2012, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
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I recommend rescheduling your trip. That is high country and Channel 2 says they are going to get 4 to 10 inches. Higher amounts will be on higher ground. Some areas will have freezing rain which in my opinion is the world's worst weather. Cell coverage in the valleys is absent. Such a trip tomorrow would not be enjoyable and it will be downright dangerous. Saturday will be much better.
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Unread 01-26-2012, 10:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Maine Land Man View Post
I recommend rescheduling your trip. That is high country and Channel 2 says they are going to get 4 to 10 inches. Higher amounts will be on higher ground. Some areas will have freezing rain which in my opinion is the world's worst weather. Cell coverage in the valleys is absent. Such a trip tomorrow would not be enjoyable and it will be downright dangerous. Saturday will be much better.
Having just heard the latest weather forecast, I concur with NMLM.

This isn't the weather for a trip on that route, in an ordinary car, in the upcoming weather. Frankly, even in a good 4X4 with snow tires, it wouldn't be that enjoyable. If nothing else, the visibility will be so poor, you won't see the sights anyhow.

Freezing rain, of all the precip types, takes the most active treatment response on the part of the highway crews, meaning lots of salt and brine and out on that route, you just won't get the intense crew coverage that you would on, say I-95. (I am politely understating the situation then some, too. )
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Unread 01-26-2012, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Jersey City
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Thank you guys for the advice. REALLY appreciate it. We're not too keen on rescheduling the trip altogether, since we've gotten the time off work approved, only have a few days, and may not get another opportunity for a couple of months at least. So I'd like to try and make it if we can.

But I think with the information you all have provided, I'll change the route and take I-95 and then come up Route 4 from Auburn-Lewiston. It's a lower elevation route most of the way (where the forecast is for rain). Also it seems there's more civilization for a good way up from there, so if things get hairy we can find a place to stop (or stop in Auburn!) and then continue into the wilds on Saturday. It just seems like there's less of a chance we might get in trouble, and there'd be more options in case we have to change course or plans.

The snow will be a great thing to enjoy... once we get there! We're planning to ski for a day at Saddleback and then just spend some time relaxing and enjoying some peace.

And we'll be cautious and on the lookout for moose. Are moose, like deer, primarily active at dusk? It may seem like a silly question, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've ever seen a moose.

Again, thanks for the help!
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Unread 01-26-2012, 04:15 PM
 
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I wouldn't rule out moose at any time of day or night, but I would say that most of what I've seen while driving tend to be during the hours of 3 to 9 pm, though that's also when I think I'm driving the most.

Enjoy Rangeley!

Rangeley Lakes Maine Chamber of Commerce
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Unread 01-27-2012, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
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Wise choice lammius. I saw a guy go off I-95 this afternoon at over 60 MPH. He went down into the median, across a brook, went airborne a while then up into the stumps. I didn't see a mark on the body panels, but I expect the underside is going to need a LOT of work.
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Unread 01-28-2012, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
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It's a lovely day for a ride to Rangeley; and much safer too. Take some photos.
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Unread 01-30-2012, 08:45 PM
 
Location: Jersey City
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We made it to Rangeley Friday night. We took Route 4 up from Auburn, which was fine until we got to Livermore Falls. Then the rain turned to freezing drizzle and the road got a little slick. And soon after Farmington, it turned to a light snow, which was a welcome improvement. Keeping it at about 30 mph and pulling aside a couple of times to let some impatient trucks pass, we did ok. And I'm very glad we didn't take the "rough road" through Errol!

Boy did we enjoy Rangeley! Had a great dinner at the Pour House at Rangeley Inn, and despite the icy conditions, we enjoyed skiing Saddleback. Great atmosphere there that was a pleasant change from some of the mountains we're more used to. We encountered nothing but friendly people every place we went. I look forward to coming back.

Today, with blue skies, we picked up a case of Moxie, left Rangeley and headed west on 16. It indeed appeared to be a forgotten road, but scenic is an understatement. Beautiful mountain, lake and river views, and a good look at Mt Washington and the Presidential range from Route 2. Definitely worthwhile on a day with good visibility.

Thanks again for the tips. I'll shuffle through the pics and post some later this week.
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Unread 01-30-2012, 10:36 PM
 
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I was on top of sugarloaf mountain yesterday in carrabasset valley, a bit nippy, but what a view!
It was home to the winter special olympics, and i was part of a block sponsorship-you'd have to see this to appreciate all thats involved, all the volunteer support and most importantly, all the participation
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