WATERVILLE — The deteriorating Western Avenue Bridge over Messalonskee Stream will be replaced within two years, if all goes according to plan.

The state Department of Transportation is expecting to hear later this year if it receives funding for the project, according to DOT project manager Steve Bodge.

“It will compete with all Maine DOT projects in 2014-15,” Bodge said. “So, the earliest construction would take place is in 2014.”

The bridge is on Western Avenue, near the intersection of Cool Street. It has a steel grate deck and abutments that sit on bedrock beneath it, Bodge said.

Kennebec Water District would have to lower the water in the stream to allow for a complete inspection of the abutments, he said.

“We’re hoping they’re solid and may be re-used,” Bodge said.

An engineering study has been funded to inspect the bridge in detail, he said.

“The bridge was built in 1947 so it’s 65 years old. We prefer to get 75 to 100 years out of bridges, but this type of bridge allows salt and water to get in.”

DOT is working with an engineering consultant, Erdman Anthony, of Rochester, New York, which is developing a preliminary design report with recommendations on how to fix the bridge, according to Bodge. That reported is expected to be complete in the fall, he said.

About 14 residents and business owners attended a public hearing Wednesday in the council chambers to discuss the proposed bridge replacement, according to Bodge.

Some had questions about traffic issues that would occur during the project, he said. DOT officials surmise the project will take six to eight weeks to complete and options for detours are being explored.

“This type of bridge is going to be very difficult to maintain traffic on site while we replace it,” Bodge said.

He said once DOT receives the consultant’s recommendation, it will have a better idea of scope and cost for the project.

If approved, the work on bridge replacement would be contracted out, he said.

Funding would include 80 percent in federal dollars and 20 percent state dollars, with no local match required, he said. Further public meetings would be held on the proposal, he added.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]