Designer promises new bridge in Katahdin area will be sturdy

Posted June 21, 2009, at 9:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:16 p.m.

TOWNSHIP 3 INDIAN PURCHASE — They might see it wobble slightly, but anybody riding or walking the proposed multi-use recreational bridge will feel a sturdy structure beneath them, its designer said Saturday.

Bridgham Engineering and Land Surveying owner Daniel O. Bridgham said the 224-foot clear-span bridge to be built over the Penobscot River’s West Branch this summer will most closely resemble a 160-foot wooden ATV and snowmobile bridge, which he designed, over the Meduxenkeag River in Houlton. That was built two years ago.

Like its predecessor, Bridgham’s latest bridge has wooden slats affixed to support beams as well as cables with chain-link fencing along its sides to help prevent accidents.

The deck will be about 11 feet above normal water level, and the top of the steel towers will be about 50 feet above the water level.

One unique feature: Additional slats will help keep bicyclists and hikers safe during summer, but will be removed to prevent ice and snow overload when snowmobilers use it.

“This is the first time we have done that,” Bridgham said after a groundbreaking at the bridge site off Route 11 near the Green Bridge just outside Millinocket.

The bridge can accommodate one snowmobile or ATV every 10 feet, he said.

About 20 people attended the groundbreaking. They included East Millinocket Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley, East Millinocket Selectman Mark Marston, Millinocket Town Councilors Jimmy Busque and John Raymond, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud and State Rep. Herbie Clark, D-Millinocket.

Bridgham, who also designed and engineered the Wheeler Stream recreational bridge in Hermon, said the bridge should require only minimal maintenance.

Busque and Marston praised the project for its economic potential as a lure to ATV riders and other recreationalists and for the way it has unified East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket.

“I think it’s good that we have shown that these towns can work together,” Marston said. “We all see the benefits that this kind of thing can bring to the entire Katahdin region.”

MJM Construction of Millinocket is likely to be the firm that will build the bridge starting next month. A trails committee subcommittee of Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue, Raymond and Brian Wiley of East Millinocket met early last week with MJM and will recommend the firm to the town council for approval at the council’s meeting on Thursday, Conlogue has said.

With a total bid of $155,134, MJM was the project’s lowest bidder of the seven companies that bid. It was also the only company to bid on the project’s three phases of work, Conlogue said.

The original cost estimate for the bridge’s construction was about $200,000. The funding raised through three Maine Department of Conservation grants and a $60,000 allocation from the Katahdin Area Recovery and Expansion Committee still leaves the project about $6,000 short of being fully funded, Conlogue said.

Fundraisers will be held to get the $6,000, Conlogue said. Among them: a Bring Your Own Bottle Party for July 4 at Raymond’s North Plaza Event Center at 780 Central St., Millinocket. The public is invited. Donations will be accepted at the door, Raymond said.

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