VERONA ISLAND, Maine — The Penobscot Narrows Bridge reopened on Monday afternoon after being closed since midday on Sunday.
“Due to the temperatures and today’s rainfall, ice is now cleared from the bridge and traffic can flow freely,” Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said in a press release.
The bridge had been closed to protect motorists from the ice that was melting off the bridge’s cables and falling onto the roadway.
“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 a prepared statement issued last week explaining this weekend’s bridge closure.
The bridge was abruptly closed for the first time on Sunday, Dec. 29, because large chunks of ice were melting enough to become dislodged from the span’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 next Monday night as temperatures dropped and the ice froze again. The second closure was prompted by forecasts of a sunny Sunday and temperatures rising.
Motorists trying to get from Verona Island to Prospect once again had to drive as much as 40 miles out of their way to the nearest bridge, which is in Brewer.
Rep. James Gillway, R-Searsport, a member of the transportation committee who represents the communities on either side of the bridge, said the necessary closures were more a result of extreme weather than a flaw in the bridge’s design.
“I have faith in the DOT that they’re going to monitor this more closely,” he said.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge carries Route 1 across the Penobscot River.