GUILFORD, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation recently held a public hearing at the Guilford fire station to outline plans to replace the deck on Memorial Bridge, a $1.5 million project slated for completion in the 2015 fiscal year.
According to Town Manager Tom Goulette, DOT officials presented two options on a time frame and detour plan.
“It appears that they’re leaning toward a 6 to 8 month work time with a one-lane closure, rather than closing the bridge [completely] and getting it done in four months,” Goulette said.
DOT Project Engineer Steve Bodge told the Observer that, since it’s a steel-girder bridge, “We can do one half at a time. On other bridges, we don’t have that option.”
Bodge said the Guilford Memorial Bridge was built in 1954, and the deck was “patched up several times. But this will be the first complete deck replacement. It should last another 25 years, easily.”
Shutting off all traffic over the bridge, which is the main route to the Moosehead Lake region from Dexter and Dover-Foxcroft, would be “detrimental to the Water Street and north side (of town) businesses, [and] the traffic issues from Hotel Hill in Sangerville or along the Back Abbot Road — which is closed to heavy truck traffic — would present many problems,” Goulette posted on the town’s Facebook page.
Bodge agreed. “We don’t want traffic to bypass businesses on the major routes in town,” he said.
Approximately 5,900 vehicles pass over the bridge daily, and 12 percent are trucks.
Although the repairs are on the DOT’s 2015-16 work plan — which means it’s scheduled for completion by July 1, 2016 — Goulette said agency representatives “promised to at least try to move this up into the 2015 project schedule.” Guilford celebrates its bicentennial in 2016.
But the town manager noted that “no matter what options they choose, there will be delays, frustration and issues. But the bridge has been in need of this (deck rebuilding) for a long time.”
Another local project on the DOT work plan is rehabilitation of about a half-mile of Route 150 beginning just south of the Guilford-Parkman town line, also slated for completion in the 2015 fiscal year.
Bodge said the purpose of the June 24 meeting “was as much for us to get information as it was to explain the project to the public. We want to know about upcoming events in the community, traffic problems, flooding issues and things like that. It was a good meeting.”