Construction for the international bridge in Madawaska, Maine continues as contractors add pier shafts on Dec. 18, 2021. Credit: Courtesy of Deschaine Digital

MADAWASKA, Maine — The new Madawaska international bridge is taking shape as crews turn their focus underwater.

Night work on the bridge began in September. Since then, workers have constructed a pier across the St. John River and are working on land support. But for now their primary task is building five 60-foot-tall pier shafts in the river on which the bridge will rest.

Still standing, the old McDonald’s building in Madawaska, Maine and has yet to be demolished and no specific date has been given for its demolition as of Jan. 7, 2022. Credit: Emily Jerkins / St. John Valley Times

Already completed are the concrete seals and caps needed to construct the five shafts, said Andrew Lathe of the Maine Department of Transportation. He said the structures should be finished later this winter.

Construction is also ongoing on land abutments — structures at the end of the bridge that are built to support the lateral pressure of an arch.

MaineDOT is already preparing for the thaw at the end of the winter, and plans to take the construction trestle out of the water on Feb. 15 in order to avoid ice jams and flooding, Lathe said.

After the ice melts and the river is clear, the trestle will be replaced and work will continue as usual.

Construction vehicles are blanketed under a layer of snow in Madawaska, Maine on Jan. 7, 2022. Credit: Emily Jerkins / St. John Valley Times

The new bridge is targeted for completion in 2023. For now, the existing century-old bridge is in use, and has had a posted five-ton weight limit since 2017.

Independent contractor Reed & Reed of Woolwich and New Brunswick-based Greenfield construction, along with the Maine and New Brunswick transportation departments, are collaborating on the project.

Accompanying the bridge project is the creation of a new land port of entry. The General Services Administration had completed the footing of most of the structure’s foundation in late October.