PORTLAND — Plans to replace the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Portland and South Portland were unveiled by the Maine Department of Transportation on Feb. 4 at Mercy Hospital’s Fore River campus.
The $63 million replacement bridge will be taller than the existing structure, will have four lanes for vehicle traffic, a 12-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path, and memorials to honor the five branches of military service.
Officials said there will be no impact on the nearly 22,000 drivers who use the existing bridge daily, since it will remain open while the new bridge is built. The old bridge will be removed after construction of the new bridge is complete, and a nearby railroad line will remain untouched.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, and the new Veterans Memorial Bridge is slated to open in July 2012. The existing bridge will be demolished in August 2012 and the project will be complete by December 2012.
Transportation Commissioner David Cole said the 2,150-foot bridge has reached the end of its useful life and the new bridge will be constructed to last 100 years.
“This is the state’s largest metropolitan area, and the bridge provides a vital link to the surrounding area,” he said. “It is about more than vehicle traffic.”
The bridge will bring value to taxpayers in Portland and South Portland, he said, and will be an improvement to the oceanfront area and a striking gateway between the two communities.
The Maine Department of Transportation selected Reed & Reed of Woolwich as the contractor for the project. The design team includes Falmouth-based T.Y. Lin International and Portland-based firms SMRT for landscape design, GZA GeoEnvironmental for geotechnical engineering services, and Barton & Gingold for communication and the public education process.
Jackson Parker, president and chief executive officer of Reed & Reed, said he used to travel over the bridge daily for work, and it seemed to separate Portland and South Portland instead of uniting them.
“I promise you the new Veteran’s Memorial Bridge will provide a different kind of link that brings the two communities together and does so in a functional and aesthetically pleasing way,” he said.
In addition to a new bridge, the project will include a redesign of the intersection on the Portland side of Route 1 at Commercial Street, Valley Street and the Fore River Parkway.
Cole said the project will “put local people to work,” and could generate about 1,700 jobs. There will be a job fair within the next six to eight weeks and jobs will available for laborers, iron-workers, subcontractors and more.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or email@example.com
As part of the new Veterans Memorial Bridge, the intersection of Valley Street, Commercial Street, Fore River Parkway and Route 1 will be streamlined and improved. There will be better access for pedestrians and bicyclists, and a more efficient traffic configuration.
Plans for the new Veterans Memorial Bridge include bicycle and walkway pavilions dedicated to the five military branches.