This bridge on Blake Hill Road in Mount Vernon, photographed Monday, has a newly imposed weight limit because of its poor condition. Sam Shepherd/Kennebec Journal

MOUNT VERNON — Blake Hill Road residents Nancy and Ronald Larue say a newly imposed weight limit on a bridge near their house in Mount Vernon could double response times if there were an emergency.

The Larues are among a handful of residents on the road where the state has deemed a deteriorating bridge unsafe for vehicles weighing more than 10 tons.

A standard car or truck weighs about 11/2 to three tons, while larger vehicles, such as school buses and fire trucks, can weigh up to 20 tons, and trucks with snowplows more than 25 tons.

“An inspection revealed deteriorating concrete in the pier and pitted beams,” said Paul Merrill, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation.

Merrill said the department is in the process of posting a 10-ton limit on the bridge, which had not been done as of Monday.

Blake Hill Road is about 11/2 miles long and connects North Road and Pond Road. The Larues live at 54 Blake Hill Road, a short trip over the bridge over Hopkins Stream from the Pond Road side of Blake Hill Road. But that drive almost doubles if a truck has to travel up North Road and down Blake Hill Road.


“You just feel like you’d be isolated from the Fire Department,” Nancy Larue said.

The drive from the Larue’s residence to the Fire Department takes about three minutes, which is doubled by the longer route.

Mount Vernon Selectman Paul Crockett said replacing the would cost between $2 million and $3 million, money he did not see the town raising anytime soon.

“We’re lucky to raise $100,000 to pave a road,” he said.

Fire Chief Dana Dunn said the weight limit would change response times for only one of the residences on Blake Hill Road. He said he did not like the new weight limit, but the department would “make it work.”

“Everything comes down to money,” Dunn said.


Road Commissioner Lee Dunn said school buses and trucks with snowplows would also not be allowed to cross the bridge. For plows, he said there would have to be turnarounds on either side of the bridge. He said the extra time and effort on the road could lead to an increase in snowplowing costs.

Nancy Larue, who said she was the fifth generation of her family to live at her house on Blake Hill Road, said construction trucks and school buses often use the road as a shortcut through town. With the bridge posted, the large vehicles would have to navigate roads with larger hills, which could add to fuel costs.

“We’d like to have it fixed so they can use it,” she said. “It would save a lot of fuel over the year.”

Ronald Larue, who operates a sawmill and a maple business at his property, said he did not think the bridge should be considered for closure at all and balked at the idea that repairing the bridge would be a costly job.

“It should be looked at,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a job to fix that.”

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