This bridge over the Cascade Brook at Cascade Falls in Saco was built this fall, but couldn’t withstand the impact of a 4.9-inch rainstorm on Dec. 14. Jim Swain Sr. Photo

SACO — A heavy rainstorm on Dec. 14 dumped nearly five inches of precipitation onto the Cascade Brook area of Saco, ripping out a brand new bridge over the brook at Cascade Falls.

The wooden bridge, finished in early October, had been built by the Maine Conservation Corps and joined portions of a trail.

“The stream divides Cascade Falls into two areas, and during high water it is almost impossible to get from one side to the other,” said Saco Parks and Recreation Director Ryan Sommers.”The bridge let us do that.”

He said the city Parks and Recreation Department teamed up with Saco Bay Trails to begin expanding the trail system in the area.

After designing the wooden structure and scouting a suitable location, a six-person crew from Maine Conservation Corps built the bridge in 10 days, said Sommers.

“They did a fantastic job,” he said. “It was well constructed and allowed increase in foot traffic, people were enjoying the trail system.”


But a rain storm starting Friday night, Dec. 14 and ending Saturday afternoon, Dec. 15 brought heavy precipitation to much of Maine; 4.9-inches of rain fell on Saco, according to the National Weather Service. The volume of water that fell and ran off into the brook was just too much for the wooden structure.

Jim Swain, a wildlife and nature photographer and a member of Saco Bay Trails was at Cascade Falls on Dec. 15 and photographed the high water and the damage.

A 4.9-inch rainstorm took out a bridge over the Cascade Brook at Cascade Falls back on Dec, 14 – and did some other damage as well, as evidenced by bits of lumber on the riverbank. Jim Swain Sr. Photo

“It was sad,” he said of the bridge being ripped from its footings.

Now Saco officials are looking to determine next steps.

“The bridge is intact. But this will be a much different build now,” said Sommers of the proposal should the city move forward with a replacement. Sommers said a new structure would sport concrete footings, and steel beams instead of wood, to withstand the water flow.

He said he will talk with Mayor William Doyle, incoming City Administrator Bryan Kaenrath and the parks and recreation advisory council to get their thoughts as the city begins building its budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Saco Communications Director Emily Roy said Saco Emergency Management Director John Duross has been compiling data on damage from the storm and will submit the information to FEMA for reimbursement if the amount reaches the federal agency’s threshold.

In all, the wooden structure cost $3,000 in materials; about $4,000 went to the Maine Conservation Corps, Sommers estimated.

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