Franklin Countys First News

Commissioners approve temporary bridge installation

MADRID TOWNSHIP - A small bridge leading to a dead end road has gained attention across the state this week after local resident Sandy Wilber began advocating for assistance.

The bridge, located on Calvin Gray Road, was deemed unsafe by Franklin County Road Commissioner Mike Pond who sought advice from a local Maine Department of Transportation representative before bringing the issue to a County Commissioner meeting two weeks ago. Pond reported that the support beams of the bridge were beginning to rot, and asked commissioners whether or not he should post the bridge. Pond said the Maine Department of Transportation was recommending posting the bridge for weight limits to not exceed three tons. He also sought, and received, approval for a $57,000 contract to build a new bridge in June 2021. After some discussion about the residents who live on Calvin Gray Road who had voiced concern about the posting, commissioners supported the recommendation for a three ton limit.

Wilber, who lives on Calvin Gray Road along with her 89-year-old uncle Owen James, heard about the potential posting and quickly realized what that would mean for her and her family.

"Owen needs propane for his generator. When the power goes out up here we can be out for days, and he needs oxygen 24/7," Wilber said.

It was Wilber's mechanic who pointed out that her own truck would exceed the weight limit, not to mention propane delivery trucks, snowplows and FedEx. Her truck insurance company confirmed that they wouldn't be responsible for any damage associated with a posted road. She quickly called Commissioner Clyde Barker who represents District 3 which includes the unorganized township of Madrid.

"He assured me they would take care of it, and to not worry. Next thing I know they decided to post it," Wilber said.

Wilber called Channel 13 to share her story and news spread quickly of her situation.

Both Barker and Pond said the decision was essentially out of their hands due to a DOT recommendation. Local municipalities, or in Madrid's case the county, are responsible for bridges such as the Calvin Gray Road one. That responsibility includes notifying the DOT when an inspection is due, which by law should happen every two years.

MDOT Bridge Maintenance Engineer Ben Foster said he didn't see the Calvin Gray Road bridge inspection results until yesterday.

"We were notified about this bridge three weeks ago, and inspections take some time," he said.

Commissioners have decided to push the issue through as a priority matter and met on Monday to discuss the installation of a temporary bridge that would last until June. Pond estimated the cost of the temporary bridge to be roughly $4,000. He also said the weight limit for the road will need to be reposted, as determined by the engineer company, but he is guessing that weight limit will only allow medium-duty trucks. Construction of the temporary bridge was estimated to be completed by the end of the day on Friday.

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