The Ticonic Bridge is seen from the banks of the Kennebec River in Winslow on Tuesday. The Maine Department of Transportation says a four-year project will begin this month to replace the 113-year-old span. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

A $52.8 million project to replace the 113-year-old Ticonic Bridge that spans the Kennebec River between Waterville and Winslow is scheduled to start this month.

The work on the deteriorating bridge is scheduled to last four years and the contractor is Pittsfield-based Cianbro.

Starting in late August or early September, westbound traffic from Winslow will be detoured to the Carter Memorial Bridge, which is south of the Ticonic Bridge, and eastbound traffic would stay on the Ticonic Bridge, according to a state Department of Transportation schedule. Early in September, pedestrian traffic would then be detoured to the Two Cent Bridge at Head of Falls.

In November 2024, both east and westbound traffic are expected to be detoured over Carter Memorial Bridge, as the Ticonic Bridge will be fully closed. In April 2025, eastbound traffic and pedestrians should be returned to the Ticonic while westbound traffic would remain detoured over the Carter bridge. In September 2026, both east and westbound traffic is scheduled to be returned to the new Ticonic Bridge. Construction is expected to be completed in May 2027.

Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho said Tuesday that a new bridge is needed and the replacement will complement all the work that has been done as part of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts. New lights will be installed on the bridge that are the same as those downtown and in Winslow, according to Coelho.

“It’s going to be a pain, but it’s sort of finishing off what’s happening downtown — it’s just an extension,” he said of the project.


Winslow Town Manager Erica LaCroix said the project has been well planned.

“Our biggest concern beyond the unavoidable disruption of traffic has been the ability of our emergency vehicles to get across the river expeditiously when necessary,” she said in a statement. “This is especially important for ambulances carrying patients to MaineGeneral Thayer. DOT has been very accommodating, working out traffic preemption systems that should cause minimal delays for traffic coming from Winslow into Waterville.”

She noted the bridge has deteriorated to a dangerous condition and said the work over the next few years “will be a significant inconvenience to our travelling public, but it’s completely necessary.”

City Engineer Andy McPherson and Paul Ureneck, Colby College’s director for commercial real estate who supervises construction downtown, met last week with Cianbro’s project manager to discuss details, including where the company’s office trailer will be positioned, according to McPherson. McPherson said Cianbro will start moving equipment into the area of the bridge this week, though actual work will not start immediately on the bridge.

“Cianbro is one of the biggest bridge builders in Maine and probably one of the largest in the country,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll keep it on schedule and keep the project running as smoothly as possible.”

Portions of the Ticonic are more than 100 years old, according to information provided Tuesday by DOT spokesman Paul Merrill. The bridge will be replaced with a two-span, steel girder with concrete bridge deck. A single concrete pier will be built in the river to support the bridge, which will carry five lanes of traffic similar to that on the existing bridge. It will have sidewalks on both sides, as well as widened shoulders for bicyclists.


About $25 million of the funding is from a federal BUILD grant issued to the DOT, which matched part of the money.

The current span is a three-part structure, including a former trolley line built in 1909, a roadway built in 1936 and an additional roadway built in 1970, according to DOT. It began as a steel truss bridge in the 1800s and in the early 1900s a concrete arch trolley bridge was built and opened with a 50-foot track. In its heyday, the trolley system carried more than 2 million passengers a year.

The bridge was significantly damaged during the Great Flood of March 1936 after a large piece of ice crashed into one of its stone piers, causing two of the truss spans to collapse into the river, according to DOT. When repairs were done, one concrete arch was left as it was, the failed truss removed, piers reconstructed and a new riveted steel girder structure built to replace the truss, creating the first sizable roadway for vehicular traffic in a four-span configuration. The bridge was widened again in 1970, in a five-span configuration.

The project will be challenging, according to officials. The DOT website says the riverbanks are steep and water levels vary widely throughout the year, creating a complex set of factors.

“Although the Kennebec River is not a commercial waterway, it is a critical habitat for Atlantic salmon and shortnose sturgeon populations during spawning season, therefore, contractor work will be restricted so that no work will be done in the waterway during the late spring and summer months. Finally, because there are numerous electricity, cable, telephone, and water utilities located along the bridge, special measures will be taken to relocate these facilities in a manner that maintains operability at all times during construction.”

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