Howland bridge project eyes spring start

Posted Aug. 16, 2010, at 7:59 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:29 a.m.

HOWLAND, Maine — It won’t start this fall as originally hoped, but construction of the new $10 million Howland bridge will begin in the spring, with project preparation work starting in a few weeks, officials said Monday.

When it is finished in 2012, the three-span deck and girder bridge won’t need to be entirely replaced until at least 2112, said Jason Gallant, project manager for Louis Berger Associates of Portland, which is designing the bridge.

“We are about 40 percent finished [with the design] at this point,” Gallant said Monday. “We are currently negotiating a right of way to construct the new bridge and we are designing the new super- and substructures to it now.”

The negotiations delayed construction, Gallant said. The project’s receiving yard and office will be set up this fall, probably within a few weeks. The demolition of an old garage at LaGrange Road and Coffin Street will occur shortly, said Tharryn Smith, manager of projects for Cianbro Corp., the project’s general contractor.

Under the Maine Department of Transportation-approved plan, the old bridge will be used until 2012 and razed in 2013, with the new bridge standing between the old and the dam nearby, Gallant said.

“All the complexity is in getting out of the water, what you see in geologic conditions and what you see down in the river,” Smith said. “It is rocky, with a lot of exposed ledge, and these river piers will be built on clean, sound ledge.”

Construction will start this spring with the building of temporary structures, abutments and bulkheads, which will allow Cianbro and its subcontractors to get on the river. The company will build a modular barge and put a crane on it, Smith said.

The crane will help the Cianbro crews install cofferdams, metal boxes driven into the river bottom, that the crews will use to dig out soil to get to the bridge bedrock, or ledge, before they are pumped free of water, Smith said.

Two piers the bridge will be built upon, one of three abutments, much of the second abutment and the steel-plate girder superstructure will be built in 2011. The second abutment, concrete deck, two bridge approaches — or connections to existing roads — will be built in 2012.

The new bridge will be twice as wide as the old, and will have 9-foot-wide sidewalks on raised shoulders that snowmobilers and snow groomers can use, Smith said.

State officials “are starting to accommodate snowmobilers,” Smith said. “Rather than have them cross rivers in perilous locations, they want to get them up on the bridge where it’s safer.”

For Smith and Andrew Hallett, the job’s project engineer, the bridge replacement is a bit of a homecoming. Both grew up in Howland, Smith said.

“It’s great. I have been in with Cianbro for 24 years and it’s the first time I have been home,” Smith said. “There’s a little extra pressure to perform, I guess.”