Bridge project planned for busy Blackstrap Road in Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — The Maine Department of Transportation will spend about $800,000 to rehabilitate the aging Lambert Street Bridge on Blackstrap Road.

Work will begin sometime next year, Garrett Gustafson of MDOT said Monday.

The goal of the project is “to maintain the structure and extend its life,” by about another 20 years, Gustafson said.

Only a handful of residents turned out for the Oct. 16 meeting at Town Hall, but Town Manager Nathan Poore had several questions regarding the project, including whether any accommodations would be made for better pedestrian and bicycle access.

The Sebago to the Sea trail network runs through this area. The trail was created in 2007 to link Sebago Lake to the Gulf of Maine and includes trail systems in Falmouth, Windham, Gorham and Standish.

According to Gustafson, the bridge is being inspected every year due to the condition of the superstructure, which is showing areas of “advanced deterioration,” he said.

Issues with the bridge include “joints that are under stress,” drainage and erosion, particularly on the southern end, where, Gustafson said, there are often washouts of the spillway.

Both piers on the bridge, which carries Blackstrap Road over the Presumpscot River, “are in really good shape” so “this is primarily a superstructure issue,” Gustafson said.

The intention during construction is to allow one-way alternating traffic with a temporary traffic light, he added, although there may also be a few temporary road closures that would require motorists to take a detour.

Poore asked if the contractor could limit any road closures to the summer, when school is out, and also asked if the traffic light could be timed to “take traffic flow into account,” since Blackstrap Road is a major commuter road.

As part of the bridge project, the adjacent town-owned boat launch will be closed and used as a staging area, according to Gustafson.

There are only a few land owners who might be impacted by right of way issues related to the bridge project, he said, and most of those should receive visits in person from Department of Transportation staff within the next week or so.

While not related to the bridge project, Poore mentioned Monday that Blackstrap Road is one of the biggest remaining travel corridors in town that has yet to be addressed by a long-term plan.

Poore said town staff is just now beginning the process of discussing the best ways to address the issues on Blackstrap, including the condition of the roadway.

“We will continue to maintain it, but Blackstrap needs a longer-term vision plan” because it’s a roadway in need of “major help,” Poore said. “It’s time we started talking about this.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

The Lambert Street Bridge, which carries Blackstrap Road over the Presumpscot River in Falmouth, will get some much-needed repair work starting next year.

The Maine Department of Transportation is planning to do maintenance work on the Lambert Street Bridge on Blackstrap Road in order to extend its useful life another couple decades.

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