A car travels last Wednesday over the Fish Bridge on Garland Road in Winslow. A $2.5 million state project to replace the bridge is expected to begin early next year and be completed by 2025. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — The Maine Department of Transportation is moving forward with a $2.5 million project to replace the Fish Bridge on Garland Road, but town officials expressed concern recently that the timetable for the work coincides with a separate Maine DOT project to replace the Ticonic Bridge connecting Winslow and Waterville.

With work on the Fish Bridge scheduled to begin early next year, the Winslow Town Council discussed last week how traffic for months will need be redirected to other routes. But councilors said any detour must be done so many vehicles do not end up near the Ticonic Bridge, creating traffic backups once construction has begun.

The Fish Bridge is a short span crossing Pattee Pond Brook, near the town line with Benton. About 850 to 900 vehicles cross the bridge each day, according to Maine DOT. The bridge got its name because the brook provides a fish passage between the Sebasticook River and Pattee Pond, and the bridge at one time had a fish ladder beneath it.

An inspection of the bridge in 2021 determined a 20-foot box culvert showed advanced deterioration in several locations, according to a state DOT report on the project. Maine bridge inspectors use a rating scale of 0 to 9 to assess structural damage, with higher numbers representing greater urgency in the need for repair work. Any component of a bridge that receives at least a 4 means “corrective action” must be taken.

The box culvert beneath the Fish Bridge received a 4 rating. It is more than 100 years old and has wide cracks.

Brian Nichols, a project manager with the state DOT, said during a public online presentation at the time of the inspection that “large portions of concrete have spalled off, which has exposed the reinforcing steel, which is also deteriorating.”


Inspectors also rated the channel’s condition as a 5 because the stream’s bank has eroded over time. Nichols said the erosion has caused a drop in water elevation under the bridge, a barrier to fish passage.

Nichols said in his presentation that state DOT officials had considered different ways to fix the bridge, but decided the culvert could be replaced with a precast concrete bridge.

“No viable rehabilitation efforts would provide the design life we look for” of about 75 years, Nichols said, “and would do nothing to improve the fish passage issue.”

With the decision to replace the bridge, the state DOT is proposing a 2.7-mile detour using state roads, but will need the town’s permission to post Eames and Albion roads for detours, too.

Town Manager Erica LaCroix said at the City Council meeting the town will look to grant that permission to the state. LaCroix said she would be concerned a detour using only state roads could send drivers to the area of the Ticonic Bridge, where construction is planned for about the same time — in spring 2024.

“If we allow them to post Eames Road as well, it cuts that whole section out of the detour and avoids sending additional traffic to what will be an already congested traffic area,” LaCroix said later in the week. “To delay a bridge replacement because it’s inconvenient would be to risk much greater hazards.”

A pickup truck travels last Wednesday over the Fish Bridge on Garland Road in Winslow. A $2.5 million state project to replace the bridge is expected to begin early next year and be completed by 2025. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Paul Fongemie, director of the Winslow Department of Public Works, said the two bridges are far enough apart that work on the Fish Bridge should not significantly increase the traffic backups already expected during the Ticonic Bridge replacement.

Fongemie said he will be “nagging” the state DOT to post clear and correct signs detouring traffic away from construction zones.

The Fish Bridge replacement project, Fongemie said, is to be advertised and open for bids in November. Work on the project is expected to begin in early 2024 and be completed by 2025.

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