PORTLAND — Several dozen area residents gathered at a public meeting in Portland City Hall on Aug. 7 to discuss design details for replacing Martin’s Point Bridge, which crosses the Presumpscot River to connect Veranda Street in East Deering with U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth.
The replacement bridge’s railings, landscaping and pedestrian pathways were topics of the meeting, led by Carol Morris, spokesperson for the project’s contractor team of CPM Constructors of Freeport and engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin of Watertown, Mass.
Final details of the design will be discussed at a public meeting in late September or early October, she said.
The Maine Department of Transportation awarded the contract for replacing the bridge to the CPM/Vanasse team in July, after it submitted a $23.5 million proposal for the work.
The proposal calls for two vehicle lanes, each bordered by a bicycle lane; a sidewalk on the bridge’s western side; a wider, multi-use pathway on the eastern side; and two platforms on the eastern side that will provide space for fishing and sightseeing.
Morris presented recommendations of the Martin’s Point Bridge Advisory Committee, a group of residents, municipal officials and others formed by MDOT to provide public input on the project.
Among the recommendations:
• The design will feature railings made of aluminum recycled from the existing bridge; they will top concrete barriers on the western side of the bridge and dividing the roadway from the multi-use pathway on the eastern side;
• The eastern edge of the bridge will feature an open, lattice-like fence of the recycled aluminum;
• Concrete piers supporting the bridge deck will be slanted and will fit completely underneath it, to prevent birds from nesting on them;
• Each platform will be approximately 300 square feet in area, with bench seating;
• Landscaping on the Falmouth side of the bridge will include a public space with a short walking path, trees and possible outdoor sculpture or signage.
Landscaping for the Portland approach to the bridge was the subject of much of the meeting’s discussion.
The accepted design calls for extending the bridge’s multi-use pathway as far as the northern entrance to the Martin’s Point Health Care campus. But at that point, the pathway would connect to an existing, narrower, unprotected sidewalk.
To continue traveling on Portland’s network of walking trails and bikeways, which start on the western side of Veranda Street, pedestrians and cyclists would have to go to the nearest crosswalk. That crosswalk is at the health care facility’s southern entrance, more than 100 yards away.
East Deering Neighborhood Association President Cheri Juniewicz called the space between the multi-use pathway and the crosswalk “a missing link.”
The link is even more important as the city considers plans for extending walking and cycling paths, according to Juniewicz.
As part of the project, the wooded area on the western side of Veranda Street, where the trail network begins, also would be landscaped. Currently, the area is overgrown, and a graffiti-covered guardrail blocks entrance to one of the trails.
The new bridge will be built immediately next to the eastern side of the current one, and will closely follow its footprint. The current bridge will remain open during construction, which is scheduled to begin next month and to be completed in December 2014.
The currrent bridge will then be demolished by cutting the bridge deck into pieces and pulling the piers from the riverbed. The demolition will not require explosive blasting, said CPM Vice President Peter Krakoff.
The current bridge, more than 70 years old, carries 15,600 vehicles a day. The bridge was renovated in 1991, but MDOT determined in 2010 that a replacement was necessary because of the bridge’s deteriorating condition.
A view of the Portland approach to the current Martin’s Point Bridge, showing the existing sidewalk (right) between the bridge and the nearest crosswalk (foreground) across Veranda Street. A wooded area (left) next to the approach would be landscaped as part of the planned replacement of the bridge.
An artist’s rendering of the recommended design for the deck of the new Martin’s Point Bridge, showing the vehicle and bicycle lanes, the sidewalk (left), and the multi-use pathway and a fishing/sightseeing platform (right).