74-Year Old Meddybemps Bridge to Be Replaced

By Jayna Smith

The Meddybemps bridge will soon be replaced, according to Steve Bodge, a project manager in the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Project Development Bridge Program.  The current bridge, which spans across the Dennys River, was built in 1940.  Its replacement cost is estimated at $1,120,000.  This includes right of way, preliminary engineering, construction, and construction engineering (oversight of the contractor during construction), Bodge explained.   Construction is expected to begin in spring or early summer of 2015 and be completed by spring of 2016.

The 74-year old bridge received a poor rating, thus the need for replacement.  “All bridges in Maine are inspected on a two-year cycle,” Bodge said.  “Bridge inspectors rate each element of the bridge on condition.  Hundreds of things are looked at for a specific bridge.  The major components that are rated are substructure--abutments and piers that are the base; the superstructure--steel or concrete that spans the water, roadway or rail below; and the deck, which is the surface of that we drive on.”

Projects such as these are funded using State and Federal tax dollars.  This particular project, Bodge said, will be completed using 100% state funds.   “Our typical design life of new bridges is 75 years,” he said.  Just like the existing bridge, the new one will be able to carry all legal loads.  “The new bridge will be built approximately 35 feet downstream of the existing bridge on a new alignment.  Its width will be 28 feet, 8 inches from curb to curb, about four feet wider than the existing bridge.  The new bridge will have a 40 foot span with a precast voided concrete slabs on concrete abutments founded on bedrock.  It will also have a reinforced concrete deck with three inch bituminous wearing surface with standard two bar steel rail.  The existing bridge was a 25 foot span reinforced concrete rigid frame on bedrock with a bituminous wearing surface and concrete bridge rail.”

Some private land will be acquired to construct the new bridge.  Bodge said, “There will be a combination of temporary and permanent rights acquired to complete the project.  The State will use the eminent domain process to acquire these rights per Federal and State laws and statutes.”  Additionally, with regards to the nearby former Superfund site, the nearby archeological dig site, and wildlife disturbance during construction, Bodge said all necessary permits to complete the project will be obtained.  “Our department works directly with State and Federal agencies to obtain permits to complete these projects within the requirements of each agency.”