The first time I can recall crossing the Waldo-Hancock Bridge between Verona Island and Prospect as a child was on a trip to visit my grandparents in New Haven, Conn. The crossing was both amazing and terrifying for a young boy who had never seen or crossed such a span.
I wondered each time we made the trip if the bridge was safe. It seemed so narrow and, in my young mind, it seemed to sway a bit as my dad piloted the family van carrying five of us over it.
I came to recognize the bridge as a marking point on our trips, a gateway to a new adventure. And seeing the green metal structure as it loomed on the horizon coming up Route 1, returning to Mount Desert Island, it was a “welcome home” sign.
Alan S. Grover of Monroe also remembers the bridge as a highlight of his trips to Corea with family. He remembers the toll booth at the bridge, where 35 cents bought you passage across the 2,040-foot span of steel and concrete. Standing on the Prospect side talking with MDOT engineer Phil Roberts recently, Grover said he couldn’t see the need for a new bridge, thinking the old bridge was just fine.
Engineers in 2003 discovered corrosion in the cables hidden by the sheaths covering them. The damage had been done, the corrosion had reached a point of no return and a new bridge was needed.
Dec. 30, 2006, marked the opening of the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which led to the dismantling of the old Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
Delayed by a lack of funding, the demolition is now taking place. Workers are methodically removing sections and allowing the bridge to balance itself as it slowly is reduced to a pile of scrap metal and ground concrete.
When the dust has settled, the Waldo-Hancock Bridge will be just a memory. Young travelers mostly likely will marvel at the new Penobsot Narrows Bridge as they travel across. It will become the marking point for the start of many an adventure and the welcome sign to many returning home.