A rendering of the new Frank J. Wood Bridge. Courtesy of Maine Department of Transportation

The replacement of the Frank J. Wood Bridge linking Brunswick and Topsham is scheduled to start this summer, while a local group’s request for a federal injunction to stop the project looms in the background.

Work on the $49.9 million project is expected to start by the end of June, according to Maine Department of Transportation spokesperson Paul Merrill. Woolwich-based Reed & Reed is the general contractor for the work.

The new Frank J. Wood Bridge will have bicycle lanes, sidewalks on both sides and parks at both ends. Courtesy of Maine Department of Transportation

Traffic closures are expected to happen in late 2024 or early 2025. The replacement is expected to be completed by November 2026.

The 805-foot, green steel truss bridge was built in 1932. The new design is simpler, without the old bridge’s signature triangular superstructure.

The Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge formed to advocate for repairs to the historic bridge instead of replacement, citing “clear evidence” that rehabilitation of the historic bridge is less expensive. It filed a lawsuit that delayed the project numerous times and earlier this year filed for a federal injunction to stop construction altogether. A ruling on the injunction is expected in about a month.

In October 2021, the transportation department set a weight limit of 10 tons on the bridge, meaning large vehicles like fire engines and commercial trucks can’t cross it, worrying town officials on both sides of the bridge about safety and the effect on the local economy. The Brunswick Town Council and Topsham Select Board earlier this year signed a proclamation backing the bridge’s replacement, and state representatives from the two towns recently signed a letter saying the bridge’s replacement is in the public’s interest.

“Hopefully, that’s another arrow in the quiver,” Brunswick Councilor and state Rep. Dan Ankeles said at a council meeting this week, referring to the fight to replace the bridge.

The new bridge is expected to last 100 years. It will have sidewalks on both sides, bicycle lanes, “bump-outs” for pedestrian viewing, wider shoulders, parks on both ends and “unobstructed views of the natural and architectural features of the surrounding Pejepscot Falls,” according to the transportation department.

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