FORT KENT, Maine — The international bridge connecting Clair, New Brunswick, and Maine, already scheduled for a complete replacement within the next three years, will be posted later this summer to heavy truck traffic.
“The posting will reflect only one [commercial tractor-trailer] truck at a time allowed on the bridge,” Bob Watson, Maine Department of Transportation regional manager, said Tuesday afternoon. “That’s more or less the way it operates now and all the local truckers know it.”
The posting, Watson said, is aimed at truck drivers not familiar with the 20-foot-wide steel structure.
Cars and SUVs will not be affected by the 1 to 2 feet of the bridge that will be closed to traffic.
“There will still be adequate room for two cars,” Watson said.
The official posting, Watson said, is aimed at reducing stress on the bridge’s stringers on the downstream side, which he said are “showing some deterioration.”
At the same time, Watson was quick to say the bridge is safe for vehicle traffic.
“If it was not safe we would not let people use it,” he said. “We are just being a little conservative and erring on the side of caution.”
DOT officials will work with the Fort Kent Public Works Department to come up with alternatives for snow removal on the bridge.
Snow now is plowed off the downstream side, which, under the new posting, no longer will be accessible.
Plans for a new $11 million, 45-foot-wide bridge were unveiled at a public hearing in May. The new bridge will be located about 15 feet downriver from the current structure.
Construction of the new bridge, expected to begin in 2012, will be a joint project of Maine and New Brunswick and take about a year to complete.
In the meantime, the posting will remain in effect, Watson said.