PORTLAND — A historic footbridge in the city’s most popular park will be repaired this spring, but at a higher cost than the city originally planned.

Members of Portland’s Historic Preservation Board voted 5-0 Wednesday night to go with a more historically sensitive, but slightly more expensive approach for repairing the 99-year-old Deering Oaks bridge.

The vote came after the board and city officials spent about 90 minutes at the bridge site reviewing their options. The bridge is in the 51-acre Deering Oaks Park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After a brief discussion, the board opted to override the city’s recommendations and go with a more historically traditional approach that will add at least $14,000 to the original $146,000 cost.

The project calls for repairing cracks in the concrete and stone bridge, as well as replicating the original lights that were removed years ago. Weather has worn away the outer layer of the bridge’s concrete.

“In our culture we don’t accept paying for maintenance all that well,” said board member, Ted Oldham. “But I am going to come down on the side of using the historic method of repairing it.”

Members said avoiding the use of modern sealants to protect the bridge from water damage would preserve its original look.

Oldham said he would rather see cracks patched with mortar than seal the entire bridge.

“I worry about sealing the bridge up with all the moisture that is trapped inside it,” he said.

The board also voted to install six-foot lamp posts instead of the 8-foot poles recommended by the city.

Mike Bobinsky, director of the city’s Public Services Department, said using a traditional method to repair the bridge will cost more and might take more time — the project is scheduled to be finished by the first week in July.

The city has hired Knowles Industrial Service Corp. of Gorham to do the repair work.

Bobinsky said the costs could even go higher than the preliminary cost difference of $14,000 because the work the board authorized will require “a more customized approach.”

“I think the integrity of the bridge will be well-maintained with using the historic approach,” Chairwoman Martha Burke said.

Though the city owns the bridge, it had to receive approval from the Historic Preservation Board before the project could continue.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]