SKOWHEGAN — Officials have decided to abandon plans to repair the Hilton Bridge on Red Bridge Road and instead concentrate on replacing the span.

Selectmen on Tuesday revisited their options for the trestle bridge and ultimately chose to refrain from any further action until they receive an estimate on building a new one. There’s no timetable for when such work could begin.

The Hilton Bridge was built in 1923 and its deteriorating condition, along with liability concerns, forced officials to close it to all traffic on Aug. 17. Skowhegan owns the bridge along with Canaan and the towns would split the cost to replace it.

Canaan Road Commissioner Michael Robinson Jr. said last month that Canaan does not have the money to put into repairs, and that the money would need to be allocated in the town’s annual budget, which is usually voted on at the annual town meeting in March.

But the consensus from the Canaan and Skowhegan road commissioners is that the bridge is beyond repair and should be permanently closed.

Don Kinney, Skowhegan’s road commissioner, recommended Tuesday that the town wait to hire engineering services “until the town of Canaan can assist in funding this project.”

“(Canaan) doesn’t want to spend any more money on it, they don’t even have the money to cover (engineering costs) and I don’t want to take the money out of my budget to pay for it,” he said.

Selectman Steve Govoni, who works as a structural engineer at Wentworth Partners & Associates, said he supports the recommendation to keep the bridge closed.

Govoni assessed the bridge in 2019 and said that extensive rust had caused significant deterioration. He added on Tuesday that “those are still issues, obviously nothing got better.”

Govoni has conferred with Canaan officials and said that town’s section of the road only has three nearby residents and services provided to these residents have not been impacted by the bridge closure.

“(Canaan) has not brought a truck over the bridge in two or three years on the road maintenance side, and no fire trucks in the last six years,” Govoni said. “It doesn’t change their mode of operation at all.”

Instead, emergency services access the road from Route 2/Oak Pond Road.

“In my mind we still have a liability there, if we’re going to close this thing it needs to be closed properly and that does mean the bridge needs to come out,” Govoni said. “There is no repairing that bridge because it is a trestle bridge with four bearings and all four bearings have been jeopardized. There is no fixing those bearing points.”

Govoni estimates the cost of a new bridge to be upward of $680,000. That amount would not cover the cost of removing the current bridge.

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