SKOWHEGAN — Town officials in Skowhegan have officially requested that the state Department of Transportation move forward with a study of the impacts of a proposed second downtown bridge over the Kennebec River.

The town is asking Maine DOT to begin an evaluation of the proposed bridge’s impacts following the process required under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to a memo from town officials.

The memo, written by David Bucknam, Skowhegan’s interim town manager and chief of police, was approved by the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

Maine DOT engineers and project managers have said at recent meetings that an environmental impact study, which could take up to two years, is the next step in the design process.

They emphasized that the exact location has yet to be determined.

But after considering several locations over the years, Maine DOT said this year that the best option with regard to traffic improvements is near Skowhegan’s downtown, from somewhere near the intersection of North Avenue and Water Street, effectively connecting U.S. Routes 2 and 201 on either side of the river.


Impacts to nearby homeowners, the Veterans Memorial Park and town infrastructure need to be studied before Maine DOT can provide definitive answers to concerns from residents, officials said.

“We believe the Town of Skowhegan bridge committee/technical group and MDOT can work together during this study to avoid and/or minimize impacts which would affect the citizens of Skowhegan,” the memo says.

For decades, officials have discussed building a second bridge over the Kennebec River in Skowhegan to help relieve congestion on the Margaret Chase Smith Bridges, shown above in 2022, which carry traffic on and over the downtown island. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

The bridge is officially a state project, and transportation officials have said its construction will be funded by federal and state dollars.

The town has recently been collaborating with state engineers and their consultants on the bridge project as part of a larger traffic improvement project, the Village Partnership Initiative.

The recent push for a new bridge, which has been discussed for nearly 30 years, came out of that initiative. In considering other traffic improvements, officials were prompted by the closure of the existing Margaret Chase Smith Bridges during December’s historic flooding and the need to do scheduled maintenance on those bridges within the next decade.

Martin Rooney, a project manager for Maine DOT, said at a public hearing earlier this month that the state wants to continue working with the town and its residents as it moves forward, even though the bridge is ultimately a Maine DOT project.

“We want to come up with solutions. We want to do this together,” Rooney said then. “The last two studies, including this one, Skowhegan invited DOT in here to work together to solve problems. And that’s been our first and foremost goal.”

Skowhegan’s letter to Maine DOT supports that collaboration along with the continued engagement of town residents throughout the process.

“We are prepared to continue working as a team,” the memo says, “supporting the current terms of participation in technical meetings and hosting/help leading public involvement and stakeholder meetings.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.