The venerable Waldo-Hancock Bridge will come down this fall and winter as the Maine Department of Transportation finally demolishes a span that has become an eyesore in the lower Penobscot Valley.
The MDOT will request bids within the next several weeks and will budget $7.6 million to remove the rusting 2,040-foot suspension bridge – Maine’s first – built to connect Hancock County and Waldo County and eliminate long upriver drives to cross the Penobscot River at Bangor and Brewer. Maintenance crews discovered in 2003 that the bridge has physically deteriorated past rehabilitation; a major construction project saw the adjacent Penobscot Narrows Bridge built and opened within a few years.
Because osprey and peregrine falcons nest on the bridge, actual demolition cannot start until Oct. 1. Crews will remove the bridge deck and suspension cables by using barge-mounted cranes to lower steel to waiting barges. The two towers will be the last bridge components to be torn down; the bridge’s steel will be recycled.
Due to high costs and environmental concerns, the MDOT will not remove the bridge piers. Although some people have suggested creating a scenic overlook by leaving intact the bridge deck extending from the Prospect shore to the nearest pier, the MDOT has opted to take down the Prospect tower to pier level.
Plans call for a contractor to place navigational lights on the piers to prevent boats from colliding with them.
The project has a scheduled completion date of June 2013.