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Travel on new Portland-Falmouth bridge expected this year

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Travel on new Portland-Falmouth bridge expected this year

PORTLAND — State transportation officials Monday presented their final design for the new Martin's Point bridge, including minor aesthetic tweaks to the $23.5 million project that is under construction between Portland and Falmouth.

The presentation at City Hall was the final public hearing on the design and focused on the multi-use pathway, cyclist and pedestrian safety, and the overall appearance of the bridge that connects Veranda Street to U.S. Route 1.

The new bridge, which is being built next to the 70-year-old span that crosses the Presumpscot River, is designed to accommodate several uses. It includes a 10-foot-wide multi-use pathway and a sidewalk with fishing platforms on the east side.

The multi-use pathway will be plowed in the winter months, Falmouth Town Manager Nathan Poore said.

The two, 300-square-foot fishing platforms will have granite bench seating. A mini-park on the Falmouth side will include a short walking path, trees and some kind of artwork.

Small changes have been made since the last public meetings about the design, including altering some of the railing and fencing, angling the fishing platforms and adding new tear-drop style lampposts.

Much of the discussion about the design of the bridge in the last year has included whether it will connect existing trail systems, but the design will not do so.

The final design extends the bridge's multi-use pathway to the northern entrance of the Martin's Point Health Care campus, but the pathway will not connect to the existing Veranda Street sidewalk, which is on the opposite side of the street.

Portland's trail network ends on the west side of Veranda Street, leaving a gap of about 100 yards to the nearest crosswalk in front of the health-care campus.

Falmouth resident Holly Winger, a member of the bridge design committee, said officials are working to move the current southbound bus stop on Veranda Street north, closer to the Martin's Point entrance.

Earlier designs included picnic tables and a small landscaped area near that wooded area on Veranda Street, but they were removed from the latest design because of maintenance costs, Winger said.

The new bridge's structure will closely resemble the existing bridge, but will be 112 feet shorter, with a total length of about 1,400 feet. It has fewer pilings, allowing for easier marine travel beneath the span.

CPM Constructors of Freeport and Watertown, Mass., engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin are building the bridge and expect it to be open to all traffic by the end of the year, said Peter Krakoff, vice president and chief engineer at CPM, although the project won't be finished until December 2014.

Krakoff said construction has been on schedule since ground was broken last November. All of the pilings will be driven by the end of the week, in preparation for the roadway foundation.

The old bridge will be demolished by breaking the roadway into pieces and pulling the piers from the riverbed, he said.

The bridge carries approximately 15,600 vehicles a day. It was renovated in 1991, but the Maine Department of Transportation determined in 2010 that a replacement was necessary because of the bridge's deteriorating condition.

The new bridge is expected to last at least 100 years.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow Will on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.