DEER ISLE, Maine — Work began Monday on nearly five months of maintenance intended to prolong the life of the 74-year-old suspension bridge between Sedgwick and Deer Isle.
The $1.1 million project is a “nuts-and-bolts” job, said Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot.
“There isn’t any one thing that’s bringing us out there,” he said Monday. “It’s really just maintaining it so we don’t have a Waldo-Hancock issue on our hands.”
The Waldo-Hancock Bridge was demolished this year after repairs in the early 2000s failed to save the struggling structure and prompted the design and construction of its emergency replacement, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which opened in 2006.
Traffic across the Deer Isle Bridge — the only land access to Deer Isle and Stonington from the mainland — will be limited to one lane of traffic for most of the time, Talbot said. Work crews, however, will have the ability to open up both lanes if conditions call for it.
“They do have the ability between 7 and 9 [a.m.], and again in the afternoon, to open it up to both lanes. They’ll be watching for traffic cues,” Talbot said. “We’re really going to be conscious of the traffic. We’ll stay aware of that.”
The project includes replacing cracked steel, support cables, worn bolts and safety ropes used by workers who scale the bridge’s towers. Workers also will replace rocker bearings under the bridge, which allow the bridge to flex and move in the wind, as it’s designed to do.
Several electronic instruments used to measure wind speed, bridge movement and temperature, will be removed. Talbot said those pieces of equipment will be either repaired or replaced.
Work on the bridge will continue during daylight hours through mid-December. Talbot said the work is not weather-dependent.
Follow Mario Moretto at @riocarmine.