The Maine Department of Transportation is looking for public feedback on the $40.5 million plan to replace the Ticonic Bridge. The span, seen Tuesday looking from Waterville toward Winslow. Head of Falls on the Kennebec River is at left. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The state Department of Transportation wants the public to have its say on the preliminary design for the $40.5 million project to replace the Ticonic Bridge spanning the Kennebec River between Waterville and Winslow on U.S. Route 201.

The Maine DOT recently released videos featuring two officials who explain the latest plans for the project, which must be advertised for construction by September, according to federal funding requirements.

“The Ticonic Bridge is a big project,” design consultant Tim Cote says in one video. “It’s actually one of the biggest projects in MDOT’s three-year work plan. It’s a big bridge, and it’s a busy bridge, carrying about 14,000 vehicles a day across the Kennebec River.”

Cote, of HNTB Corp., said $25 million of the estimated $40.5 million project is from a grant the DOT received this year from the Federal Highway Administration. That administration requires certain timelines for completion of the project.

Construction of the bridge, for instance, must be substantially completed by September 2027. Construction is estimated to start in the fall of 2022 or spring of 2023 and last for three years, with completion sometime in 2026, according to Cote.

Motorists travel across the Ticonic Bridge on Tuesday, as seen from Winslow looking across the Kennebec River toward Waterville. The Maine Department of Transportation is moving ahead with a $40.5 million plan to replace the aging bridge. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

There is the potential for construction to be delayed about a year to provide separation between the bridge construction and a fishway construction project Brookfield Renewable Energy is planning on the river, he said.

“That’s being currently evaluated and any adjustments to the construction stage will be made in the coming portions of the final design,” Cote said.

Mark Parlin, a project manager for the DOT, said the videos represent the second of two public presentations on the bridge project, for which the public may submit comments until Jan. 14.

“It’s important that we gather as much information from you as we can in the early stages of the project,” he said in one online presentation.

Parts of the Ticonic are more than 100 years old and the bridge is reaching the end of its service life, Cote said. A bridge design study has been ongoing for about a year.

The plan is to replace steel girders, abutments, concrete arches and piers, and eliminate structural deficiencies to ensure the new bridge is safe into the future while minimizing the impact to the public, adjacent properties, environmental resources and existing utilities. The footprint will be similar to that of the current bridge, and the new structure will have five lanes and two sidewalks, as does the existing bridge. Utilities will be installed under the bridge, which will have 5-foot shoulders and 6-foot sidewalks.

Some improvements will be made to the intersection at the Winslow end of the bridge to make traffic flow safer and more efficient, and the construction will be in line with a new intersection on the Waterville side, according to Cote.

The DOT and town of Winslow will work to find an appropriate relocation for the war memorial that is at the end of the bridge, he said.

“That will be established as part of the final design,” Cote said.

To allow traffic to continue using the span during construction, engineers are recommending two eastbound lanes be used on the bridge and detouring westbound traffic. Detours may include use of the Carter Memorial Bridge and the bridges spanning the Kennebec River in Fairfield.

The bridge work coincides with the $11.2 million Waterville downtown revitalization project expected to be completed late next year that includes changing the traffic pattern on Main and Front streets downtown from one way to two way and improving sidewalks, intersections and landscaping.

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