A new bridge that carries Route 1 over Main Street in Yarmouth is almost done after two years of construction. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

YARMOUTH — Plans to celebrate the completion of a new bridge carrying Route 1 over Main Street may be on hold following a fatal accident last week at the construction site.

Paul D. Haley, 57, of Farmington, was killed June 21 when a street sweeper being driven by a another worker backed over him.

Flowers were left at the site of a fatal construction accident in Yarmouth June 21. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

Haley was a construction foreman and veteran employee with Woolwich-based Reed & Reed, the general contractor hired by the Maine Department of Transportation to build the new bridge.

Town Manager Nat Tupper this week said emergency crews responded to the scene, but that was the extent of their involvement, other than to “extend our sorrow and support.”

A report in the Portland Press Herald said Reed & Reed is conducting an internal investigation, and cooperating with state and federal authorities.

According to Police Chief Daniel Gallant, members of the construction crew were using the street sweeper to clean a portion of Main Street in preparation for repaving.

In a press release issued last week, Reed & Reed said, “We are very sad to announce that one of our employees lost his life in an accident on a construction site in Yarmouth. … Our thoughts and prayers are with our employee and his family. Our immediate priority was to secure the scene … and ensure the safety of all the persons on the site.”

The press release said it was too soon to know the cause of the accident, but the company’s main goal is to understand what happened.

Tupper said the initial schedule called for completion of the bridge project, which began in 2017, by July 12.

He said he’s not sure if the accident and shutdown of the construction site last week will cause any delays.

Tupper said a local committee was planning a celebratory event for Aug. 11, but “I don’t know how this tragedy will affect those plans yet. It’s all too recent.”

According to town’s website, Yarmouth was first notified of the need to replace the Route 1 bridge in 2014. At the time, MDOT said it was time to either replace or rebuild the aging structure.

The town then created a Bridge Advisory Committee, which worked for two years to design the bridge with a variety of features to make it safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Ensuring the bridge blends into the village aesthetic was also a key priority of the committee.

As the Route 1 bridge project on Main Street winds down, MDOT is gearing up to address four area bridges that carry Interstate 295 over local roads.

Among the bridges in the pipeline are the Route 1 bridge at Exit 17 in Yarmouth and the Exit 20 and 22 bridges in Freeport.

Project Manager Leanne Timberlake said it’s too early to know how much the bridge package might cost, but she estimated it will be in the range of $28 million.

She said all four bridges are “considered structurally deficient” and are in generally … poor overall condition,”

In addition, Timberlake said, the width of the roadways do not meet current standards or are too narrow to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians.

She also said MDOT wants to make sure the new bridges could accommodate a possible third lane of traffic, in case the Interstate is widened at any point.

MDOT has canceled several projects recently due to higher-than-expected construction costs, and spokesman Paul Merrill said that could be an issue with future road projects, as well.

A bridge carrying Interstate 295 over Route 1, at Exit 17, in Yarmouth is slated for reconstruction in 2021. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

We are concerned about how our chronically unmet funding needs will couple with recent higher-than-expected construction bid prices and affect our ability to continue doing important work for the people of Maine,” Merrill said.

We hope the recent adjustments the commissioner made to our work plan have put us in a good position to move forward with the projects on our schedule,” he added.

Timberlake said if all goes well the Interstate 295 bridge projects would go out to bid in spring 2021.

MDOT is still taking public comment on these projects. Call 642-3422 or email to [email protected] to share input or for more information.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.