SKOWHEGAN — While town officials want to move forward with two leading options for building a second bridge over the Kennebec River, some residents this week said they want the town to abandon one option that has a bridge extending from downtown because it would require the removal of Veterans Memorial Park.

A public hearing was held Tuesday to learn more about a recent feasibility study and to review six different bridge proposals, as well as a seventh option to not build at all. Officials now are looking for feedback to finalize the feasibility study.

The town’s second bridge committee has recommended whittling down the options to two, keeping the downtown crossing and a downstream crossing as the leading contenders.

The project is a joint effort between the state and town and will be funded using local, state and federal money. This renewed push for a second bridge began in 2019 after previous attempts failed because of disputes over a bypass.

Resident Ambrose McCarthy Jr. spoke Tuesday against the downtown option because of the impact it would have on the park, which would likely need to be relocated.

Building the bridge downtown would mean the span would be shorter than if it were built elsewhere, and officials say it would allow for the greatest reduction in traffic crossing the Margaret Chase Smith bridge.

“My purpose for being here tonight is for one purpose only, that is the bridge goes anywhere but near the Veterans Memorial,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said nearly $300,000 has been spent on the memorial, which includes a spire with the names of 22 Skowhegan residents who died in battle.

“I personally have put $35,000 into that site,” McCarthy said. “Needless to say, if your road is going through there you’ve got a fight on your hands.”

Resident Ann Dorney, who’s on the board of Somerset Woods Trustees, spoke in opposition to the proposal to build downstream, saying it would ruin scenic views over the river. She also questioned whether the option is “actually a ruse to do a bypass.”

“Many of the comments I’ve heard over many years is about the unique experience when approaching Skowhegan from the east with a view of the Kennebec, the Eddy, the lovely big trees that greet visitors,” Dorney said. “People talk about that all the time, it’s really remarkable that we have that kind of view.”

The downstream option is likely the least expensive plan and would have relatively little direct impact on abutters, officials have said. And as part of the agreement with state officials, the town is not considering a traffic bypass.

Building downtown is projected to cost $55.3 million and officials say it would allow for improved roadway connections in the area.

The downstream crossing, meanwhile, is projected to cost $25.5 million and would be built near the Great Eddy and would provide roadway connections between U.S. Route 201 and U.S. Route 2.

“These are planning-level cost estimates, we didn’t design anything, we didn’t go through the design process, this is a feasibility-level study,” said Tom Errico with the T.Y. Lin International engineering firm.

“We spent the past year refining these costs and what I’ve been told is that we’ve done more than what is typically done on a feasibility study for estimating cost,” Errico said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on it to get those bridge costs nailed down in a very, very accurate way for the type of study that we’re doing.”

The Margaret Chase Smith bridge handles about 25,000 vehicles a day, including nearly 1,000 tractor-trailers that slow traffic. By comparison, the Casco Bay Bridge in Portland handles about 30,000 vehicles.

Officials believe that a second bridge is needed to alleviate traffic congestion and improve safety and mobility downtown. They say it’s also necessary as nearby companies Sappi Somerset and New Balance continue to grow and increase truck traffic through town.

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