Maine Department of Transportation moves to build new bridge on New Meadows in Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — The Maine Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to replace the New Meadows Bridge connecting Old Bath and Old Brunswick roads.

The existing bridge, according to Project Manager Joel Kittredge, was built in 1918.

It was rehabilitated in 1936, reconstructed in 1974, and underwent a substructure repair in 2005, he said in an interview Monday.

Bridges typically have a design life of 75-100 years, Kittredge said. “With this one, we spent a little bit of money to give it some more time,” he added.

But the structure is now rated by MDOT as in “overall poor condition” and “in need of complete replacement.”

MDOT’s current replacement plans comes with an estimated price tag of $900,000, which will be paid in full by MDOT.

The plans, designed by MDOT in-house engineers, call for replacing the steel structure with pre-formed concrete. The new bridge would also have an expanded roadway; the road, which is 10 feet 6 inches wide, with no shoulders, would be widened to a 10-foot travel lane with 40-inch shoulders.

MDOT hopes to be ready to post and advertise the work in March and begin construction in late summer. Plans call to limit the closure to 90 continuous calendar days, according to Kittridge, in order to complete construction within one building season.

Travelers will be diverted on a seven-mile detour to Route 1, Kittredge said.

The Old Bath Road Bridge is the most inland of three causeways crossing the tidal portion of the New Meadows River. The other two are the Route 1 causeway and the Bath Road causeway.

The partial impoundments of the Route 1 and Bath Road causeways restrict tidal flow of the New Meadows, and the “lake” created by the restrictions does not meet Maine Department of Environmental Protection standards for dissolved oxygen.

A lack of oxygen in the water can cause fish die-offs and algal blooms, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Kittredge said Monday that DOT has consulted with MDEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the project, and has abatement plans, like constructing coffer dams, in place for construction.

Additionally, DOT has gone through an “extensive” Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation for species like Atlantic salmon and Atlantic shortnose sturgeon with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey, Kittredge said.

MDOT held a preliminary public meeting in Brunswick for the project in June.

The “formal” public meeting, where Kittredge and MDOT engineers will present the project plans, will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in Brunswick Council Chambers at Town Hall.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

The existing bridge connecting Old Bath and Old Brunswick roads in Brunswick was built in 1918, and is listed as in “overall poor condition” by the Maine Department of Transportation.

MDOT plans to replace the current Old Bath Road bridge crossing the New Meadows River for a cost of $900,000.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.