HOWLAND, Maine — State transportation officials are studying three plans that could determine the location of the new Enfield-Howland bridge over the Penobscot River, Town Manager Jane Jones said Tuesday.
Slated for repair or replacement, the bridge work could be handled in several ways, Jones said. Maine Department of Transportation officials’ three proposals concern:
• Building on or adding to the bridge in its present location. Among this plan’s drawbacks, Jones said, is that it might involve one-way traffic going over the bridge during the construction process, which is expected to take three years.
• Building a new bridge several feet from the location of the old bridge. This plan would closely resemble the present construction of a new bridge along Route 155 over the Piscatiquis River, which is less than a mile from the Penobscot River bridge, Jones said.
• Building a new bridge about a quarter-mile downstream from the old bridge. This plan would necessitate the purchase of land off Old County Road and might involve extensive work to Route 155 and Old County, Jones said.
Homeowners along Route 155 in that area have expressed concerns about how the road might need to be widened to accommodate traffic as it turns off or onto the bridge, Jones said.
The Maine Department of Transportation has allocated $625,000 for preliminary bridge study and engineering, DOT project manager Steve Bodge has said.
The superstructure, or truss, is in satisfactory shape, while the substructures are in fair condition, Bodge said.
With the bridge study not yet complete, it is impossible to tell exactly how much the work will cost, but estimates range in the millions of dollars for a renovation, which could add up to 20 years of life to the bridge, and tens of millions for a total replacement, which would presumably last 80 to 100 years, Jones and Bodge said.
DOT officials who visited Howland to discuss the options on July 21 and are studying the bridge will return in the winter to discuss their findings, Jones said.
Meanwhile, work continues on the nearby bridge over the Piscatiquis River. Under the DOT-approved plan, the old bridge will be used until 2012 and razed in 2013, with the new bridge — which is due to be finished next year — standing between the old one and the dam nearby.
Workers will continue to build temporary structures, abutments and bulkheads, as part of the project.