Just months after the Stroudwater Street bridge reopened, the Maine Turnpike Authority is closing another bridge that could affect traffic in Westbrook.

On Monday, the bridge that carries Congress Street (Route 22) over the turnpike near the Portland Jetport will close for demolition and reconstruction.

Maine Turnpike representatives said both lanes of the bridge will be closed to enable a faster completion of the project, which is expected to take nine months rather than 18 months if one lane were left open.

“While this bridge is not located in Westbrook, it certainly will have an impact on the commuter traffic which passes through the city,” said Westbrook City Administrator Jerre Bryant via e-mail.

The bridge is expected to re-open by Nov. 15, although turnpike authorities are hoping the project will be completed earlier.

“We have included strong financial incentives in the contract that will encourage the contractor to have the project completed earlier,” turnpike spokesman Bruce Pelletier said via e-mail.

Westbrook city staff and police don’t expect major traffic issues from the closure, especially given the relatively mild inconvenience experienced by commuters during the reconstruction of the Stroudwater Street bridge last year.

Westbrook Police Capt. Tom Roth said Tuesday that he thought that alternate routes will experience extra traffic, but the city is prepared to deal with it. In the previous project, police monitored and altered the timing on traffic lights to adjust to the new traffic patterns.

“We’re not anticipating any problems,” said Roth. “And those who encounter the route closure for the first time will find alternate routes.”

However, local projects planned in Westbrook for the spring and summer could have a greater impact when coupled with the Congress Street bridge closure.

“The more pronounced impact on traffic will be when the Spring Street-County Road intersection reconstruction begins in the spring and the William Clarke Drive project begins in the late spring or early summer,” said Bryant.

The Stroudwater Street bridge over the turnpike was closed from March through October of last year. For that project, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 cars per day were diverted from Stroudwater Street to other routes. Traffic was heavier on several streets and tended to back up in the mornings and evenings on Spring and Saco streets, particularly, but patterns settled down and cars moved relatively smoothly.

While travelers and affected business owners objected to a complete closing of the Stroudwater Street bridge, they admitted to being less inconvenienced during the project than they thought they would have been.

In a twist on the last bridge project, commuters using Spring Street to Congress Street on their way from Westbrook to Portland could now well use Stroudwater Street to Congress Street.


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