CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Construction crews plan to work from sunrise to sunset every day until two temporary bridges are completed on Route 27 in Carrabassett Valley.

Reed & Reed Inc. mobilized a fleet of heavy equipment and about 24 employees this week to reopen the section of highway that has been closed since Tropical Storm Irene washed away two bridges Sunday afternoon.

The construction company from Woolwich is trying to meet a Tuesday deadline set by the Maine Department of Transportation, which has fast-tracked the project, said Rocky Copp, transportation manager for the company.

One of the biggest issues is that residents north of the collapsed bridges have been separated from emergency services in Carrabassett Valley, the town in northern Franklin County that provides first responder service for the affected communities, Police Chief Scott Nichols said.

No 911 callers have had a problem yet, and there are plans to provide emergency services until the temporary bridges are finished, Nichols said. Maine State Police and the Franklin County sheriff have dedicated patrols to cover Stratton and other affected communities during the busy Labor Day weekend, he said.

NorthStar Ambulance service is covering the affected communities from its station in Rangeley, which adds about five minutes to the response time, said David Robie, director for the ambulance service.

The project’s emergency nature and extremely tight deadline make it unique for the contractor, despite the company’s vast experience in building the temporary structures, Copp said.

“It’s something that we do often, it’s kind of our forte, but we typically don’t have to build two bridges in seven days,” he said.

The company frequently uses temporary bridges to keep roads open while permanent bridges are built.

Reed & Reed aims to complete the project on Route 27 more quickly than usual by using more equipment and working longer hours, Copp said.

Various construction equipment, including three cranes, has been moved to the site from across the state, Copp said, and the company rented additional trucks to get more supplies to the site quicker.

“We are going to work very long hours, work over the holiday weekend from sunup to sundown, every day until we get these (temporary bridges) open,” Copp said.

The project will reopen the section of highway to all traffic, including commercial vehicles. It was awarded through a fast-tracked contracting method, without the public bidding process.

Permanent bridges are expected to be built by Nov. 18 over the Carrabassett River and Brackett Brook. The cost for both projects is still being negotiated, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

Nichols praised the speed at which the project has come together to shorten the impact on emergency services. “I’ve never seen an operation come together so quickly,” he said.

A 100-foot aluminum footbridge has been installed for people in the communities north of the closure to cross the Carrabassett River, Nichols said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer David Robinson can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

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