Saturday, May 25, 2013
WESTBROOK — Construction on the city's bridges won't be finished even when the replacement of the Cumberland Mills Bridge is complete.
The Maine Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss whether to rehab or replace this 54-year-old span on Bridge Street in Westbrook. The state hasn’t allocated any funding for the project.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
The Maine Department of Transportation is planning another project about a mile up the Presumpscot River, on the Bridge Street Bridge. It will hold its first public meeting on the project at 6 p.m. Thursday in the city's public safety building on Main Street, "to hear from the public about concerns they have," said project manager Ben Condon.
Condon said the Department of Transportation hasn't decided whether to repair or replace the 54-year-old bridge, and the state hasn't allocated funding for the project.
Condon, who is also project manager for the Cumberland Mills Bridge replacement, said that, ideally, construction on the Bridge Street Bridge would begin in the spring of 2015.
Work on the 58-year-old Cumberland Mills Bridge, which began last winter, is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014.
Replacing the Bridge Street Bridge would cost about $3.5 million, while repairing it would cost about $2.4 million, Condon said.
A new bridge would last about 75 years. The Department of Transportation is still trying to determine how long a repaired bridge would hold up.
The design of the bridge, and the amount of traffic it carries, pose challenges, Condon said.
Called a through-girder bridge, it is held up by two supports -- one along each edge. That makes it difficult to repair or replace one side of the bridge at a time and leave the other side open to traffic, he said.
Construction crews would have to build a new bridge next to the existing one or build a temporary bridge while making repairs.
"There's far too much traffic to shut the bridge down without crippling Westbrook," said Condon.
He said the bridge carries 12,000 to 13,000 cars a day and is popular with pedestrians.
Residents in neighborhoods north of the Presumpscot River and people who work on Bridge Street use the bridge to walk to stores and restaurants along the city's downtown strip and to the scenic boardwalk along the river.
On Monday afternoon, people were biking, jogging and walking dogs over the bridge.
Among them was Jaydean Decesaro, a Westbrook resident who said she crosses it every day "to catch the bus, to go to the store, to refill my prescriptions."
She thinks it's about time some work was done to the bridge. "It shakes when big trucks go over it," she said.
Tina Dougherty, who owns Doughboy's Deli, said the construction "could be good and could be bad" for her business on Bridge Street, just north of the bridge.
While pedestrians would be able to cross during construction, Dougherty could imagine the work site discouraging people from trying it.
That could bring more employees from the nearby Dana Warp Mill and Disability RMS into her deli, she said, but it could also mean fewer customers coming from the Main Street side of the bridge.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: email@example.com
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Pedestrians cross the Presumpscot River on Bridge Street in Westbrook on Monday. The bridge carries 12,000 to 13,000 cars a day and is popular with pedestrians.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer