Since 1958, the Bath Viaduct on Route 1 has carried traffic over parts of the city’s downtown and the nearby Bath Iron Works shipyard.

But after nearly six decades of service, the elevated roadway is going to be replaced at a cost of $15 million.

Engineers for the Maine Department of Transportation say the structure’s roadway and supporting piers are worn out.

MDOT officials confirmed that the project will start in May with full reconstruction expected to begin in October.

A contractor, who has yet to be selected, will demolish the two-lane highway bridge, the superstructure and the piers that support it.

The viaduct will be rebuilt in place and look much the same as it does now, with the highest point being about 30 feet above Leeman Highway and Commercial Street – the two streets that run underneath it. The viaduct is a quarter-mile long and runs from High Street to the Sagadahoc Bridge over the Kennebec River.


“The full closure of the viaduct won’t happen until October 2016, after the peak summer and fall tourist seasons,” MDOT spokesman Ted Talbot said in an email.

Though some preliminary work will begin in May, the earliest closure date is Oct. 11.

Talbot said the closure, which will last through May 2017, will affect thousands of local drivers, BIW employees and out-of-state visitors who use Route 1. The degree of that impact is what is not known, Talbot said.

More than 18,000 vehicles a day travel over the viaduct, according to the state.

BIW employs thousands of workers, many of whom rely on the viaduct and adjacent streets to reach their jobs. The viaduct also connects Route 1 traffic with downtown Bath, where City Hall and a number of small shops and businesses operate.

Talbot said MDOT engineers and city officials have developed a traffic control plan they believe will minimize the impact on the traveling public and be sensitive to the needs of local businesses while providing the project contractor access to the site.


During the closure, traffic will be rerouted onto nearby Washington, Centre and Front streets.

Once the Viaduct is closed to traffic, construction crews will be able to work around the clock. The new viaduct will feature a 28-foot-wide roadway and it will remain a two-lane highway. Talbot said the goal is to have it reopened to traffic no later than Memorial Day 2017.

The contractor will spend June doing final paving and striping of the road and installing new traffic signals. Landscaping will also be done to enhance the appearance of the area.

“The contractor has been provided significant incentives and disincentives to stay within the planned schedule,” Talbot said.

For years, the state and city have talked about rebuilding the aging structure because of its deteriorating piers and deck.

In 2006, the MDOT replaced the surface of the viaduct in hopes of extending the life of the structure for 10 years.


In 2014, the state announced that funding for the reconstruction project was available, but the project was delayed.

Four firms have been prequalified to bid on the project. Those bids are scheduled to be opened on Feb. 24.

Talbot said Wyman and Simpson, CPM Constructors, Reed and Reed and Cianbro are all eligible to bid for the contract.


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