Penobscot Narrows Bridge to close again this weekend

A snowplow clears the Penobscot Narrows Bridge deck of snow and ice debris Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. Pieces of ice were reported to be anywhere from 1 to 6 inches thick and possibly weigh several hundred pounds before they shatter on the bridge deck.
A snowplow clears the Penobscot Narrows Bridge deck of snow and ice debris Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. Pieces of ice were reported to be anywhere from 1 to 6 inches thick and possibly weigh several hundred pounds before they shatter on the bridge deck. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 03, 2014, at 5:44 p.m.

VERONA ISLAND, Maine — The Penobscot Narrows Bridge will be closed at some point Sunday when higher air temperatures are expected to melt ice off the cables and pylons, Maine Department of Transportation press secretary Ted Talbot said in a prepared statement Friday. The department is worried that ice falling off the bridge will damage cars on the roadway.

The decision to close the bridge will be made sometime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday with the span remaining closed the rest of the day. Motorists are advised to find alternate routes.

MDOT personnel will be on site monitoring the bridge and will reopen it as soon as they deem it safe for travel, possibly as early as Sunday evening, according to Talbot. If necessary, crews will evaluate the bridge at dawn on Monday to determine whether it will remain closed for a second day.

The bridge was abruptly closed last Sunday, Dec. 29, because large chunks of ice were melting enough to become dislodged from the bridge’s cables and towers. Some falling ice landed in the roadway and damaged at least four vehicles, according to police reports. No one was injured.

The bridge reopened the following Monday night as temperatures dropped and the ice froze again. The second closure is being prompted by forecasts of a sunny Sunday and temperatures rising to a possible high of 45 degrees by Monday.

“We realize this is inconvenient for motorists, but public safety is our top priority and we need to ensure that this unusual icing condition has been resolved,” Joyce Taylor, chief engineer for the Maine DOT, said in the prepared statement.

Motorists trying to get from Verona Island to Prospect will once again have to drive 40 miles out of their way to the next nearest bridge in Brewer.

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge carries Route 1 across the Penobscot River.

For up-to-date information and maps of alternate routes, visit www.maine.gov/mdot/.

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