The Casco Bay Bridge will open more frequently over the next several weeks, halting traffic for as along as seven minutes each time.

The purpose of the openings is for testing the bridge and training the staff of the new private bridge operator. The training period will begin Thursday and last through March 5, according to the city of Portland.

The bridge connecting Portland and South Portland carries around 32,000 vehicles a day.

During the training period, the bridge will not be opened during its busiest traffic times — from 7 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, according to the city.

The Department of Transportation announced in December that it had awarded a five-year, $3.8 million contract to operate and maintain the Casco Bay Bridge to FDI Services, which does business as Florida Drawbridges, Inc. The change was intended to free up state personnel for other duties.

It’s the first time the state has turned over bridge operations to a private firm.

Florida Drawbridges will provide the same service as the state, with two-person crews operating the bridge around the clock and doing light maintenance. The state will continue to have an on-site supervisor at the bridge, and will handle heavy maintenance and structural work.


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