The Bridge Street Spur was already littered with construction vehicles Monday morning, shortly after crews from Reed & Reed Construction shut off the busy road to commuter traffic.

The closure, which is expected to last until the end of July, will help construction crews complete a large amount of work on the new bridge alignment. The new Bridge Street bridge will traverse diagonally from its current location, with a new intersection and traffic light to be situated where the spur now ends.

Reed & Reed, as well as other subcontractors working at the site, have been at work since January on the $6.2 million project. The Maine Department of Transportation is covering the majority of the costs. But, until now, the heavy traffic flow over the bridge and the spur has been relatively uninterrupted.

With the spur now closed, all vehicles will have to continue onto the intersection of Bridge and Main streets in order to turn right onto Main Street. Large commercial vehicles, which will be unable to turn right at the intersection, will be detoured left and then onto William Clarke Drive from Church Street.

On Tuesday, Eric Dudley, Westbrook’s director of public services, said the impact from the spur closure hasn’t sparked complaints – yet. Dudley said that while the intersection could see more congestion the first few days, with the school year about to end, “the morning rush will be a lot lighter.”

One of the concerns from city officials heading into the closure was for the loss of parking. Much of the existing parking lot for the Edwards Block building, which houses Portland Pie, will disappear. (Part of the road extending from the new bridge will run right over it.)

The solution was to use the portion of the spur that won’t be affected by the work.

“The good news is that during the closure, there’s no lost parking spaces,” Dudley said.

Vehicles parking for businesses in the Edwards Block are now using a 75- to 100-foot stretch behind the building for parking, Dudley said.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the plan originally called for added parking in the former Saccarappa Park parcel, where construction crews are now headquartered, but it was decided the paved section behind the Edwards Block was the best option.

With only an estimated six weeks to work on the spur section, crews plan to accomplish a lot. Dudley said the closure is mainly for utility work, storm drain infrastructure, and electrical work for the impending traffic signal.

When the spur reopens in August, Dudley said, it will look different. If ahead of schedule, Reed & Reed could have the new traffic light in place by the end of July, with the current signal at Bridge and Main streets removed.

“It’s going to look a lot different,” he said, whether the new intersection is completed or not. “You can see them working fast and furious over there.”

A. D. Electric, a company based in Sabattus, is doing the electrical work on the new lights.

After the project is completed, the portion of Bridge Street where the Frog & Turtle restaurant is located will no longer be the major intersection, but will be transformed into a more pedestrian-friendly area with access to the riverwalk and a new pedestrian bridge spanning the Presumpscot River.

As part of the city’s investment, entrances to the pedestrian walkway will offer scenic overlooks on each side. The southerly side will directly connect to the existing riverwalk, with preliminary studies now in place to explore construction of the riverwalk on the northern side of the Presumpscot.

Dudley said the goal set by Reed & Reed is to have traffic flowing over the new bridge by the end of this year.

The Bridge Street Spur, now closed to traffic until the end of July, will be the center of construction on the new Bridge Street bridge realignment. Staff photo by Andrew Rice


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