PORTLAND — Frequent users of Veranda Street will have to take a detour this summer, when bridge replacement will require closing part of the street for at least three months.
The State Department of Transportation will meet with residents Thursday evening to discuss the project and provide an update about a redesigned detour for traffic north of the bridge.
Jim Wentworth, a project manager for the DOT, said the intersection where the off- and on-ramps for Interstate 295 connect with Route 1 (northbound Exit 9 and the on-ramp to southbound I-295) will be reconfigured to avoid forcing drivers to make U-turns.
“There will be less disruption,” he said. Pedestrians and cyclists may be shuttled while the bridge is closed.
The complete reconfiguration plans will be presented Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Washington Gardens Community Center, 66 Pembroke St.
Wentworth said drivers will still need to get onto I-295 to bypass the bridge, since most of the roads off Veranda Street are dead ends and the bridge is the only other route over the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad tracks.
The $2 million bridge replacement project will go out to bid in the next few weeks, Wentworth said. The DOT hopes to begin preliminary work in late spring or early summer. The bridge is expected to be completely closed for about three months, with reopening scheduled for September. 
All the associated work and clean-up should be finished by spring 2010.
Veranda Street connects Washington Avenue with Route 1 in Falmouth. The bridge, between Dalton Street and Kensington Street, was built in the 1920s and is in serious need of replacement. It was posted a year ago to a 15-ton limit due to weakened steel supports. Despite the posting, large trucks still frequently cross the small bridge.
Metro bus service and the city took measures last year to reroute their heavier vehicles, including garbage trucks, snow plows and fire engines. Wentworth said the DOT has also put temporary supports under the bridge.
Replacing the bridge is tricky, not just because it is part of the primary access for many East Deering residents, but also because utilities, including a natural gas pipeline, need to be moved and replaced.
“We are still working with the utility (companies),” Wentworth said. “That’s a big issue.”

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]

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