YARMOUTH — After the increased traffic expected at this weekend’s Clam Festival has moved on, the the Maine Department of Transportation will be closing the Elm Street bridge for repairs.
The bridge will close Monday, July 21, and work is expected to be completed in early November, according to the town. All traffic, vehicular and pedestrian, will be detoured around the bridge, which may be problematic for some travelers.
“It’ll be fairly inconvenient for folks who go over the bridge,” Town Engineer Steve Johnson said. “Generally speaking, it’ll be a fairly significant detour out and around.”
According to Johnson, drivers headed west towards the bridge will be detoured down North Street to East Main Street, where they will turn right. They will then have to go left onto the access ramp and right onto Route 1. They will then take the off ramp near the library. The route will be reversed for anyone heading east.
Police Department Lt. Dean Perry said the bridge closure and detour will “certainly take some planning on people’s part if they usually go that way.” He said the detour will be easy to follow, but that it is out of the way.
“It’ll be a distinct detour,” Perry said. “People will just have to go around the long way.”
The bridge is being repaired for deterioration that has occurred over time. Johnson estimated the bridge was built in the early part of the last century. The bridge deck and superstructure are being replaced while other parts of the bridge will remain in place.
“It’s not a complete bridge replacement,” MDOT Resident Engineer Craig Hurd said. “We’ll be keeping the existing abutments.”
Johnson said that during construction, there will be nothing remaining over the Royal River.
“The work scope of this particular project is to completely remove the bridge,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be an open space of nothing for awhile.”
Johnson said there will be a temporary bridge set up by the contractor to support utilities for the project, but it will not be for public use.
The estimated cost of repairing the bridge is $1.2 million, to be funded completely by MDOT. Yarmouth will only pay for removal of the utilities it placed on the bridge.
In addition to repairing the bridge, the sidewalks will also be replaced and will be moved to the opposite side of the bridge.
Johnson said the main focus of the project is making the bridge safe after the general wear and tear its experienced over the years.
“It’s at the end of its design life,” he said. “It requires replacement, as does anything.”