Reopening of Carrabassett Valley bridges to be celebrated

Posted Nov. 17, 2011, at 8:47 p.m.

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — The rebuilding of two bridges on Route 27 brought down in August by Tropical Storm Irene is complete.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for both will take place at noon Friday, Nov. 18, at the North Branch Bridge on Route 27 at the access to Sugarloaf Mountain.

The North Branch Bridge will reopen this week, shortly before the celebration, but the Brackett Brook Bridge was opened about two weeks ago, Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said Wednesday.

Friday’s celebration features the opening of both bridges, rebuilt in less than two months and on budget, he said.

“We had a target date of Nov. 18 and we made it,” Talbot said.

When the tropical storm hit, Carrabassett Valley received more than 8.5 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

“The torrential rain in the mountain basin area overflowed rivers and brooks, and washed out two bridges within 300 yards of each other. The North Branch Bridge, built in 1958, and the Brackett Brook Bridge, built in 1999, both collapsed within minutes of each other when water overflowed the roadway and eroded the road and supports around the bridge,” Talbot said in a release.

The whole Route 27 corridor was shut down. The LePage administration supported building temporary bridges and an expedited rebuilding of the spans to reopen the corridor as quickly at possible, Talbot said. Costs increased 20-25 percent to accommodate the timetable for the work.

Reed & Reed Inc. employees worked seven-day weeks for nearly two months to create two stronger, weather-resistant bridges that are better structured underneath, he said.

The cost for the two bridges is $2.89 million. Additional work done on the S-curves and for building temporary bridges to open Route 27 brought the cost to $3.6 million, he said.

Both bridges were on DOT’s list to be reinforced. The storm damage expedited the work.

Bruce Van Note, deputy commissioner of Maine DOT; Reed & Reed Inc. Vice President Bollie Bollenbach; Carrabassett Valley Town Manager Dave Cota; and John Diller, general manager of Sugarloaf Ski Resort, will participate in Friday’s event.

“It’s not just Sugarloaf. The whole corridor is now open for business,” Talbot said of the Carrabassett Valley area businesses dependent on Route 27 for access from the Canadian border south.

To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

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