A dozen or so Mount Vernon residents weighed in on the state’s proposed replacement of the Mount Vernon West Bridge in a meeting that included a suggestion that the existing bridge be widened to accommodate anglers.

The public hearing last week was hosted by the Department of Transportation, which sought input from residents, including public safety personnel, for the proposed reconstruction, which would take place in 2018.

The two-lane bridge, erected in 1929, carries Route 41 over the confluence of Echo Lake and Taylor Pond. It is at the north end of Echo Lake, which is also known as Crotched Pond, and close to the two public boat launches, a dam and the Chimney, a tall brick tower that is a local landmark.

The replacement project is part of the department’s regular program, which includes regular inspections and replacement when necessary, and the department has estimated a total of $800,000 for a new bridge, including construction, engineering and right-of-way work.

Paul Crockett, selectmen’s chairman who was among the meeting attendees, said several people hoped the new bridge could be wider to accommodate those who like to fish from the bridge and currently have to stand in the travel lane.

However, they were told that because of the relatively low traffic count — less that 1,000 vehicles per day — it could only be some 2-4 feet wider than the current bridge.

“There was discussion about fully removing the old bridge versus cutting it in half to keep one lane open,” Crockett said via email Friday. “However, it will be more economical and yield a stronger, better bridge if they fully remove the old one then build the new one.”

Crockett said it appeared people in the room understood the limitations. However, they also asked that the removal of the bridge be delayed until mid-August after hundreds of campers depart Camp Laurel. Camp Laurel is just off Route 41 on Echo Lake in Readfield.

“Everyone seemed to agree how important it is to not have any fire or rescue delays for the large camp population during July and the first half of August,” Crockett said.

Crockett also said town officials would look into working with the state Departments of Environmental Protection or Conservation to see if the old foundation slab left from years past could be used to make a fishing access platform.

Decisions about precise timing of the bridge replacement and construction duration have yet to be nailed down.

Mark Parlin, project manager in the Maine Department of Transportation’s Bridge Program, said Friday, “It’s really just information gathering at this point. It’s not to be constructed until 2018.”

He said the next step will involve some geotechnical borings to locate ledge and to determine the types of soils, all of which factors into the type of foundation that will be used.

Parlin said a preliminary design will be started and that representatives of the state Department of Transportation will be back in Mount Vernon in May 2017 for another informational meeting.

“At that point we’ll have a better handle on the type of structure we’ll be using,” he said.

Parlin said the meeting went well.

“We had a good turnout, just the way we like to see it,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams