Debris falls during the start of demolition on the Veranda Street Bridge Friday night. Pittsfield-based Cianbro hopes to have the I-295 bridge demolished by Saturday afternoon so it can start moving the replacement spans into place. The project, including repaving, is expected to be completed in time to reopen the interstate by 11 a.m. Monday.  Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The great bridge switcheroo has begun.

As the sun set on Friday, construction workers embarked on an engineering feat designed to demolish a four-lane highway bridge and replace it over a long weekend.

Cianbro, the large Pittsfield-based construction company, started removing the bridge on Interstate 295 that goes over Veranda Street in Portland on Friday night. After the demolition is completed on Saturday, the two new bridge sections that were built next to the highway will be moved into place using “self-propelled modular transporters,” kind of like fitting a concrete puzzle together or playing a mammoth game of Tetris.

All four travel lanes of I-295 between exits 9 and 10 were closed Friday at 7 p.m. and will remain closed through the weekend, with the work expected to wrap up by 11 a.m. Monday.

Several Cianbro excavators began work at 7 p.m. on Friday, and within 30 minutes already had created a gap-toothed section of the bridge. The 60-year-old bridge is past its useful life and has been classified as structurally deficient. The replacement cost is $20.8 million.

About a dozen local residents watched, some recording videos or taking photos with their cellphones or cameras. Fat Guys mobile food vendor was selling sausages and fries.


Kenny Goodrich, who lives in the neighborhood, takes a video as demolition of the Veranda Street Bridge begins on Friday night. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Shaun Milano, a nearby Portland resident, described what was going to happen with a series of flapping, waving and pointing hand motions.

“They’re going to slide those two big things in place and drop them down,” said Milano, an electrical engineer.

“It’s a great engineering project. Even though it’s not the world’s most amazing engineering feat, it’s still pretty cool to check out,” Milano said, talking loudly so he could be heard above the sound of jackhammers and with billowing puffs of dust off in the distance.

The movement of the two bridge sections will begin early Saturday afternoon and take until late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Paul Merrill, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said “tonight (Friday night) is going to be the noisy night.”



Neighborhood resident Chris Wallace took some photos Friday evening, and said she planned to sleep through the demolition, although she might have to use ear plugs.

“They warned us it was going to be loud, but I don’t think it’s too loud,” Wallace said.

Andy Dixon, who lives just across the border in Falmouth, biked down to take a look at the work.

“I think this is awesome,” Dixon said. “If they hadn’t done it this way, it would have been a nightmare for a year or two.”

“Additional work setting up and finalizing the bridges will happen with the paving of I-295 scheduled to take place Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning, allowing for an opening back up of I-295 on Monday morning,” the DOT said in a news release.

To view the demolition and construction activities, including a time-lapse of the work done so far, go to

Local traffic in the area of the closure of Veranda Street, between Olympia and Oregon streets, should use Oregon Street for local traffic. Only local residents, businesses or customers of those businesses may enter the area this weekend.

About 53,000 motor vehicles use the stretch of I-295 between Portland and Falmouth every day.


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