RUMFORD, Maine — In about three hours on Saturday morning, crews from Nicols Bros. Logging Inc. of Rumford and a Rumford Public Works crew spanned the Bean Brook washout on Swain Road with a logging bridge.
Jim Nicols of Nicols Bros. loaned the bridge until the town could repair the damage wrought last Sunday by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
“In modern-day language, it’s ‘sweet,’ right, to see that go in?” Town Manager Carlo Puiia told Nicols as they watched crew members apply finishing touches.
Afterward, Nicols said the bridge wasn’t being used this summer by the company he and his brothers own, so he offered it to the town after learning about the washout of recently installed culverts.
“We didn’t have plans for it this summer, so somebody might as well use it and put it to good use,” Nicols said.
The town crew prepped the site Friday, working late to complete the work before Labor Day weekend.
Several crewmen said they would work Saturday morning on the bridge installation and repair washed-out shoulders on Swain Road, Puiia said.
They were ready at 6 a.m. Saturday when Nicols and his crew drove the 46-foot-long bridge in on a flatbed trailer during a rain shower.
Puiia said the town crew used two excavators and logging chains to drag the bridge into place.
Then it was a matter of aligning it and placing pins through the deck center and into the span’s folding wings on either end to prevent any movement, Puiia said.
Center sections were carried and lowered into place on the deck.
Town crewman Dale Roberts, using an excavator, and Bob Bradley, using a bucket loader, dumped dirt into place at either end of the span and tamped it down with front wheels.
A town crewman used a street sweeper to remove excess dirt from Swain Road and the bridge decking.
Within minutes, drivers and walkers began using the crossing to get into town after Swain Road resident John Martin walked across, extending a hand to thank Nicols.
“Thank you very much,” he said as he and Nicols shook hands.
“The town crew and everybody did an excellent job,” Martin said. “Jim Nicols, we cannot thank him enough.”
Martin later said that when the road washed out, it took him 17 minutes to drive into town on the damaged but passable Isthmus Road. He lives at 336 Swain Road.
From where Isthmus Road and upper Swain Road connect, it’s 8 miles one way to Route 120, and another few miles into town. It’s about a mile without the washout.
He said he had to drive into town six times Friday and watched the needle drop on the gas gauge in his truck.
Bill Morse of 388 Swain Road said he had been traveling back and forth because his father is in the hospital.
“Yesterday, we had both vehicles out and we traveled all the way around and I went down and got my aunts and took them to see my father, and it’s just great now that we can go back into town the short way,” Morse said.
On the other side of the bridge, Ron Dayon of 324 Swain Road said he was glad to see traffic resuming.
“I’m sure they’re going to really appreciate what Jim did,” he said. “I’m sure it means a lot to everybody in the area.”
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