Howland prepares new skating area

Posted Jan. 01, 2011, at 12:18 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 05, 2011, at 7:25 p.m.

HOWLAND, Maine — The town’s new outdoor skating area needs only cooperation from Mother Nature — namely several days of below-freezing temperatures — to be complete, Town Manager Jane Jones said Friday.

Public Works Department workers flooded the skating area Thursday and, if ice forms well, will hit it with more water a few more times to ensure that the ice forms flatly and smoothly, Jones said.

“There is water in it, but obviously we are going to need several nights of cold weather and to fill it in or flood it in layers,” Jones said Friday.

Construction began Nov. 1 on the skating area, which has a price tag of $70,000 but will leave the town with a better-designed recreation complex, Jones has said.

Funded entirely by federal and state allocations, the new 90-by-150-foot area is behind the town’s playground and recreation area near the former Howland Tannery building instead of the LaGrange Road side of the Howland bridge, which was the site of the old skating area. That space will be part of the approach to the new $10 million town bridge, Jones has said.

The new skating area will have lights and help turn the playground and ball fields there into a better space for community recreation, Jones said. Workers from Cianbro Corp. and King Bros. have built the rink and will install lights over it, she said.

Construction of the new bridge is due to start in the spring. When it is finished in 2012, the three-span deck-and-girder bridge won’t need to be entirely replaced until at least 2112, officials have said. The spring work will feature 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.

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 the cofferdams are pumped free of water. Two piers on which the bridge will be built, one of three abutments, much of the second abutment and the steel-plate girder superstructure will be built this year.

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.

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