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Martin's Point Bridge between Portland, Falmouth will remain open during replacement

Martin's Point Bridge between Portland, Falmouth will remain open during replacement

Photo: William Hall / The Forecaster

Looking south from Falmouth on the Martin's Point Bridge, which connects with Portland's East Deering neighborhood. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced in 2014.

PORTLAND — The state has released the design of a replacement for the aging Martin's Point Bridge, which connects East Deering with U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth.

The design of the $23 million replacement bridge was unveiled at a Maine Department of Transportation public meeting at Portland City Hall on July 10.

The replacement bridge will be built next to the current one, which will remain open during construction. The design calls for two traffic lanes, a pedestrian lane on the bridge's western side, a multi-use pathway on the eastern side, and two "bumpouts" that will provide space for fishing.

While the new structure will closely follow the current bridge's footprint, it will be 112 feet shorter than the current span of nearly 1,400 feet, because fill material will be added around the bridge approaches, MDOT said. No public or private property will be taken for the bridge.

Five contractors competed to design and build the replacement bridge, which was awarded to the team of CPM Constructors of Freeport and engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin of Watertown, Mass. Their bid came in $7 million below estimated costs.

Construction could begin as early as September, and is expected to be completed in December 2014, according to MDOT project manager Leanne Timberlake.

The current bridge, more than 70 years old, carries 15,000 vehicles a day across the Presumpscot River. The bridge was renovated in 1991, but MDOT determined in 2010 that a replacement was necessary because of the bridge's deteriorating condition.

"This bridge really needs to be replaced," said Bonny Rodden, a nearby resident and Falmouth town councilor. "With the new design, we'll have a bridge that is much improved, and is suited for more uses."

The design creates more space for walking, biking, and fishing on the bridge deck, and more vertical and horizontal clearance for boats passing below.

In addition, the design carves out a small recreational space on the Falmouth side of the bridge. Rodden called the space a "lookout" because it offers a panoramic view of the river.

"The Presumpscot has always been a vital part of our town, and this is a beautiful spot to see it," she said.

MDOT is considering suggestions for landscaping the space, as well as for lighting, railings, and other finishing touches to the bridge. As part of this process, the department will hold another public meeting on Aug. 7.

"The design was well-received (at last week's meeting)," Timberlake said. "But obviously, there were some concerns, especially on the part of Falmouth, about issues such as truck traffic and parking in the area. We want to be very careful of the impact this project has."

Rodden said the construction will only be a temporary inconvenience.

"In the end," she said, "we'll have a bridge that is better and safer for everyone."

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.