CHINA — A town subcommittee decided Monday to recommend hiring an engineering firm to begin the process of replacing the bridge on the causeway at the head of China Lake.

The TIF, or tax increment financing, committee chose voted unanimously to use Wright Pierce, an environmental engineering firm with offices throughout New England. Wright Pierce put in a bid for about $50,000, while the other firm was about $30,000 higher.

The town Board of Selectmen ultimately has to vote on the recommendations that come out of all town committees.

The TIF committee has about $80,000 set aside for engineering for the project, which is part of a larger redesign of the causeway on the north end of China Lake.

Residents approved $750,000 in TIF funds for the project on Causeway Road at the March 2017 Town Meeting.

After replacing the bridge, the committee hopes to improve the safety of the area, create more parking space and improve the boat launch. The funds can be spent over three years.

The Maine Department of Transportation has said the bridge on Causeway Road will last for another five to 10 years and currently is able handle a full load, but it is cracking in places. It was built in the 1930s. The committee decided to put $227,000 toward a bridge replacement, which could be supplemented with grants, as it’s a safety issue that may be exacerbated by increased use of the Causeway.

Committee member Frank Soares has also applied to the state Department of Agricultural, Conservation Forestry for a $175,450 grant to renovate the boating dock. While Soares couldn’t make the meeting, Town Manager Dan L’Heureux said the application showed that the town could create a dual ramp at the Causeway with two entrances and exits.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development has also approved two changes to China’s TIF agreement. The TIF was extended to last for 30 years instead of the original 20 years, and also now includes a substation installed on Route 3 this year. The upgrade should add about $70,000 annually to the fund.

TIF money comes from the town’s TIF district, which shields tax revenue from Central Maine Power Co. upgrades from county and school tax assessments, is kept in a special account the town can use for approved projects related to economic development.

It generates around $250,000 in revenue each year and will expire in 2045.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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