The Burnham Bridge, which links West Gardiner and Litchfield over Cobbosseecontee Stream, is expected to close Monday for its planned replacement this summer.

Notification went out late last week from contractor Wyman & Simpson Inc. of the pending closure, which is expected to last into October.

Planning has been underway for at least two years on the $1.4 million project, which will replace the existing 67-year-old, two-span steel bridge with a single-span steel bridge. The roadway is expected to be raised 3 feet as part of the project, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

When it was inspected a year ago, both the deck and the substructure of the bridge were listed in poor condition with advanced deterioration.

Gregory Couture, chairman of the West Gardiner Board of Selectmen, said residents had raised concerns about the height of the roadway at a public hearing on the project.

“We asked if they could raise it up some so canoes could get under it,” Couture said.

When the water is high, as it is now he said, it’s hard for people in small boats to pass under the bridge. “You have to carry the canoe across the road,” he said. “You have to portage it.”

As the design now stands, Couture said, the bridge ought to be high enough for most small boats to pass under it.

“It’s going to be inconvenient to take the long way around to get to Gardiner,” Litchfield Selectwoman Rayna Liebowitz said, “but it’s the reality that the bridge needs to be worked on.”

Some Litchfield residents were also interested in seeing the level of the roadway raised, but not all of them, Liebowitz said, because allowing larger boats through there would mean more boat traffic, creating more propeller wash, and speed enforcement doesn’t seem to take place on that stretch of the stream.

Pond Road in West Gardiner turns into Plains Road in Litchfield at the bridge.

Alternate routes include using Thorofare Road in Litchfield and U.S. Route 201 or Brunswick Road in Gardiner and Richmond to get around the closure.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said the state agency plans to issue a detour map later this week.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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