PORTLAND – Morning commuters who come into the city from the south will have to get used to sharing the highway with massive concrete bridge segments headed for the Fore River.

Nearly every weekday from this week until the fall, four 40-foot-long precast segments will be hauled up Interstate 295 to Exit 5 and be dropped off at the construction site of the new Veterans Memorial Bridge between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m.

The first shipment from Unistress Corp. in Pittsfield, Mass., was delivered Tuesday.

It took the general contractor, Reed & Reed Inc. of Woolwich, a couple of hours longer than expected to lift the segments from the trailers that had brought them, because workers had to make adjustments to the rigging of a crane, said Dustin Littlefield, project engineer for the company.

Littlefield said the glitch was something that “happens routinely on construction sites.”

“It wasn’t an issue,” he said.

The expected arrival of another crane today has postponed the second shipment of segments until Thursday, Littlefield said. He said Reed & Reed expected to set up the crane last week, before the deliveries started, but it was still being used for another job.

Construction of the $63 million bridge, which will connect Portland’s West End to South Portland, began last spring and is expected to be complete by the summer of 2012. By November, Reed & Reed plans to have 361 of the concrete segments installed across the river.

The old Veterans Memorial Bridge will remain open throughout the construction, although a southbound lane will close on some days to make room for work being done at the nearby site, said Jeraldine Herrera, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

The large, slow-moving trailers carrying the concrete segments are expected to have minimal impact on I-295 traffic, Herrera said.

Bill Connolly, property manager for Mercy Hospital, watched as the segments were dropped off Tuesday morning to make sure the deliveries didn’t affect traffic into the hospital’s nearby Fore River campus.

“There was no problem,” he said.

Although the ongoing construction will have “a major impact” on the hospital, Connolly said, the finished project will be a boon for the area.

“The traffic flow — not just for Mercy, but for the entire city — is going to be improved tremendously,” he said.


Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]