Barely two years after a lengthy project to replace a bridge on Union Street, the Maine Department of Transportation is turning its focus to another Bangor overpass less than a half-mile north.
It’s planning to replace the bridge that carries Ohio Street over Interstate 95, a project that could start as early as the spring of 2020 and close the bridge for about five months.
It will follow the recent replacement of a bridge over I-95 on nearby Union Street, a project that wrapped up late in 2016 after more than two years of work that vexed drivers and nearby residents.
Sections of the Ohio Street bridge have deteriorated over time, said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Transportation. “The existing deck is structurally deficient,” he wrote in an email.
Laminate has worn off the concrete on the bridge’s underside, and there is exposed steel on the vertical support that holds up the bridge, according to Talbot. Built in 1960, the bridge also does not provide enough vertical clearance to meet current highway standards.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Maine Department of Transportation is hosting a public forum about the Ohio Street project in the chambers of the Bangor City Council.
“MaineDOT is particularly interested in learning local views relative to project consistency with local comprehensive plans, discovering local resources, and identifying local concerns and issues,” the department said in a public notice.
The project will cost an estimated $6.2 million and be paid for with state and federal dollars.
There will be a few big differences between the replacement of the Union Street bridge and what’s planned for Ohio Street.
For one, the latter is a quieter road. Over the course of a year, its average daily traffic is 11,000, Talbot said. That’s about two-thirds of the 17,350 drivers who reportedly used Union Street on an average day when its bridge was replaced.
What’s more, the interstate does not include any off-ramps to Ohio Street, so drivers cannot exit into the area where work will be happening.
Another difference is the way that state officials are planning to do the work. They used a staged method to replace the Union Street bridge, meaning they constructed one side at a time.
That allowed traffic to continue, but it “takes much longer than closing the bridge and detouring traffic,” Talbot said.
The state does plan to close the Ohio Street bridge during construction and detour traffic for about five months, tentatively beginning in the spring of 2020. Before and after the bridge is fully shut down, workers may also need to temporarily close some lanes so they can adjust the utilities in that area, Talbot said.
Traffic will also be affected on I-95. The state will have to temporarily shift lanes on the interstate and close sections of it during the night, according to Talbot.
An average of 44,000 vehicles pass through that area on the highway each day, according to 2016 data.