MDOT: New Sharon bridge down by end of March
NEW SHARON - The Maine Department of Transportation has awarded the bid to remove the old iron bridge that spans the Sandy River, with the majority of the work slated for completion by the end of March.
At 165 feet, the Pennsylvania truss-style bridge has spanned the Sandy River for more than 94 years and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The Route 2 bridge that runs beside it was built in 1959, and MDOT closed the older bridge in the late 1990s, just as a local 'Save the Bridge' Committee began looking into ways to preserve the iron bridge.
Damage to the bridge includes the truss and abutments, which have developed a series of cracks, particularly on the southern abutment. Photographs taken by MDOT inspectors in late April and late October 2013 show significant progress in the deterioration.
On Nov. 14, 2013, New Sharon selectmen unanimously voted to turn the bridge over the state after receiving a letter from Joyce Taylor, director of project development at MDOT. In that letter, Taylor reiterated that MDOT felt the bridge was unsafe and reminded selectmen that the state had offered to remove the structure.
If the bridge were to collapse while in the town's possession, the municipality would be liable for its removal, as well as any damage that might be sustained by the nearby Route 2 bridge. The cost of repairing the bridge was estimated at $1.2 million in the late 1990s, and all local efforts to refurbish the structure have failed.
On Jan. 29, MDOT awarded the demolition contract to CPM Constructors of Freeport. According to MDOT's bid tabulation document, that company's bid of $346,764 was the lowest of the three bids the agency received.
Today, MDOT press secretary Ted Talbot said that the bulk of the work would need to be completed by the end of March, due to the anticipated impact of the spring melt.
"It's important that they're out of there before that," Talbot said.
The latest inspection by MDOT indicated the bridge was unsafe for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic due to the advanced deterioration, he noted. "Surely, we don't want it falling into the river," he said.
Further details on the project's schedule will be available following MDOT's preconstruction meetings with CPM Constructors, Talbot said.