HALLOWELL — The Maine Turnpike Authority will proceed with plans to replace a Hallowell bridge next year despite objections from local officials and the public.

The Winthrop Street Bridge over Interstate 95 is more than 60 years old and long overdue for replacement, said Peter Mills, executive director of the turnpike authority.

Hallowell Councilor Alan Stearns led an effort to delay the project two years until after the Maine Department of Transportation’s reconstruction of Water Street was complete. The city’s highway committee voted unanimously to recommend the delay, but a motion by Stearns at Monday’s City Council meeting was not approved.

“This was unique in my experience,” Mills said by telephone Tuesday. “It’s not uncommon for us to consult with towns, but usually they are more concerned with the length of the road closure.”

Stearns, at the meeting and in correspondence with Mills that was provided to the Kennebec Journal, said construction fatigue and anxiety because of the 2018 Water Street project was the No. 1 reason for recommending the delay.

During Monday’s council meeting, Lynn Irish, who owns a Water Street business and will be sworn-in as an at-large councilor next month, said delaying the project to the year after the DOT project doesn’t do much to alleviate any construction fatigue. Under the turnpike authority’s plan, the Winthrop Street work would be completed in 2017, the year before the work on Water Street. Delaying the project two years would mean the Winthrop Street work would be completed in 2019, the year after Water Street.


“I’m not convinced that the bridge needs to be replaced immediately,” Stearns said on Dec. 7. But Mills laid out all the reasons why replacing the bridge sooner than later was in the best interest of the city.

Mills said in an email the bridge has been in service for 61 years and noted the concrete forming the deck and parapets has begun to break off and expose rebar. Maintenance crews have been chipping out the loose material to prevent it from falling to the interstate below and continue to monitor the bridge’s condition, Mills said.

The plan is for the work to begin around Labor Day next year and be completed before the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It was important to the turnpike authority that the work not take place during the summer, which is a busy time for downtown Hallowell businesses.

“It is a policy of the Turnpike (Authority) to retain bridges in service for as long as they are safe and structurally sound,” Mills said, “but our paramount policy is to repair or replace them before deterioration presents a public hazard.”

Normally, a project of this magnitude would result in a road closure of about 150 days to replace the deck and framing. But because of the moderate amount of traffic — about 6,400 cars per day — the turnpike authority said they would reduce the closure period to about 55 days with incentives to the contractor for finishing the work sooner.

“We are able to do this by contracting for an accelerated schedule and employing pre-cast deck slabs joined with high performance grout,” Mills said. Because of the accelerated schedule and reduction of the closure period, the construction cost of the project will be 15- to 20-percent higher than originally expected. Mills said the project will cost about $2.4 million.


“The DOT had extensive discussions with us about the length of the closure,” Mills said. “It’ll be high-quality work, but we’re going to pay for it.”

The new bridge will be 2 feet wider, 28 feet, than the old span, which Mills said is as much width as can be added without also replacing the abutments under the bridge.

“Replacing the abutments would be expensive and unnecessary work because the present abutments have a remaining service life for many decades to come,” Mills said.

Additionally, the Winthrop Street Bridge will be raised to 15.5 feet from its current height of 15 feet of vertical clearance. The bridge was raised to 15 feet from 14.4 feet in 2001.

Turnpike authority plans call for rebuilding the approach from the east to a distance of 175 feet and from the west to the Whitten Road intersection. The two approach sections will be widened to 28 feet, to match the interior bridge width, from its present width of about 20 feet.

“It will certainly improve safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians,” Mills said.


The replacement of the bridge has been a part of the turnpike authority’s planning for the last several years. Each travel lane will be 10-feet wide, and there will be a 4-foot wide designated shoulder on each side, which Mills said is safer and wider than Winthrop Street and many other roads in Maine.

Mills said he expects the work to occur outside of the city’s busy summer season.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663


Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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