WILLIMANTIC, Maine — Through the persistence of the Board of Selectmen, the Maine Department of Transportation will pay half of the cost to install new abutments and improve the decking on Earley’s Bridge over Wilson Stream.
Selectmen signed a contract recently with N.F. Luce Co. of Anson to do the repair work, which will include installation of steel decking and new wood timber bridge abutments. Eight bids were received for the project ranging from $438,795 to the low bid of $308,200 submitted by Luce, according to Selectman Tom Capraro.
Calderwood Engineering of Richmond will do the engineering work for the project.
Capraro said Monday the state gave the town the 100-foot-long bridge several years ago. A few years later, the DOT lowered the weight limit and told town officials the bridge needed safety repairs. He said the state initially had no intention of helping to fund the project, but selectmen were persistent over the last three to four years.
“They turned it over to us and said it was our town’s responsibility,” Capraro said. “We kept saying that when they gave it to us, they knew there were some deficiencies in it because they originally had set some money aside to fix it. That’s why we were persistent in trying to get their help for payment.”
Mark Latti, DOT spokesman, said Monday that the state in 2001 turned over to the respective towns bridges located on town ways that were less than 20 feet long or were more than 20 feet but used by fewer than 100 vehicles a day. The latter applies to Earley’s Bridge.
Towns have the option to petition the DOT to request help with funding projects such as this, which is what Willimantic town officials did, Latti said. As such, it was one of the projects approved for funding.
Capraro said the town already has raised its local share.
To avoid the salmon run, the work will begin in the spring when water levels are manageable, according to Capraro. At that time, the bridge will be closed for eight to 12 weeks, he noted. American Forest Management has agreed to allow motorists the use of its gravel road as a detour to Elliotsville Road during that time, Capraro said.