FORT KENT, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation blocked public access to the Fish River Bridge in Fort Kent Tuesday morning in response to rising water that reached the bottom of the structure and is expected to continue rising throughout the day.
The bridge connects East and West Main streets at the heart of downtown Fort Kent. DOT officials decided to close the bridge as a precaution at about 5:30 a.m., according to Fort Kent Emergency Management Director Ed Endee, who is also the town’s fire chief.
“The state owns the bridge and they understand the engineering of it,” Endee said.
A gauge installed at the Fish River by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that the river will continue to rise.
“The Fish River gauge right now is saying 10.95 feet and it’s anticipated to go to 11.2 feet, about 4 inches higher. That should happen by around 8 a.m. [Wednesday] morning so it’s a very slow climb to that point,” Endee said.
Endee added that as far as current projections are concerned, officials do not expect the Fish River will reach the roadway on the bridge.
“We don’t anticipate it will go over the bridge,” he said. “Once the river reaches the very bottom of the bridge the water still has a long way from going overtop.”
Another town bridge connecting Pleasant Street to Market Street which also crosses the Fish River will not close, according to Endee.
“Oh no, that won’t happen; that bridge is considerably above the river and was designed that way when it was replaced,” Endee said. “We won’t have any issues with that bridge.”
Endee asks that spectators avoid the area of the Fish River Bridge and to reduce unnecessary travel across the only other bridge connecting one side of town to the other.
“People have to go to work but if you don’t have to go over the bridge it will help reduce traffic build up so if emergency vehicles have to get through they’ll have a clearer path,” Endee said.
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