2016-05-04 / Front Page

Eldridge updates council on bridge

Times Record Staff


Brunswick Town Manager John Eldridge updated the town council Monday about the Maine Department of Transportation’s recent public meeting regarding the fate of the Frank J. Wood Bridge, indicating the possible formation of a committee to work with the MDOT throughout the process.

“That was the one — that was the liveliest, let’s just put it that way,” Eldridge said of last week’s meeting at Southern Maine Community College at Brunswick Landing.

The MDOT recommendation to replace the bridge for about $13 million with a life span of about 100 years versus a $10 million renovation project that would last about 30 years was one citizens at the meeting either loved or hated and were ready to voice their opinion.

Scott Hanson of Topsham wanted to keep the iconic feel of what locals simply call the “Green Bridge.”

“If there’s any place in the state of Maine where a through truss bridge should be preserved, it’s this one,” he said. “You have National Register Historic Districts on both ends, you have iconic mill complexes on both ends and you have a bridge that appears on the cover of books as an iconic Maine image, so please consider this one as the one you’ll save and look again at what it would take to do that.”

Darlene Kritzman said she doesn’t like the look of the rusty old bridge she sees on her daily commute.

Of the new design, Kritzman said, “I just think it’s just absolutely gorgeous. I love the low profile. I love the way it brings more attention to the river instead of the bridge. I love this new bridge and can’t wait for it.”

Eldridge said Monday that Topsham has already been talking about putting together an advisory group from the two communities to work with the MDOT on the project. The group would be available to provide a little more local input into the project — input, Eldridge said, but not a do-over.

“They’re not open to a complete redesign and a bridge that’s going to cost three times what they want to spend on it, but they’re willing to incorporate some suggestions if that’s something that we want to participate in,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge reiterated just why the MDOT was trying to sell the rebuild plan, citing life-cycle costs and the significant bridge closures involved in a renovation opposed to building a new bridge beside the Green Bridge until it was time to tie in the ends.

Councilor Alison Harris voiced concerns over long closures during any potential rehabilitation and the impact they would have on businesses, particularly those on the Topsham side.

Harris said there was room for improving the current design and encouraged citizens from both sides of the river to contact the MDOT with ideas for improvements to the bridge.

Councilor Jane Millett asked Eldridge why an advisory committee was just being formed, considering the first meeting regarding the fate of the bridge took place about a year ago — and to only discuss a bridge the MDOT has already designed and estimated.

“It just seems that the horse is out of the barn,” Millett said.

Eldridge said he believes Topsham will be discussing the advisory committee topic and recommended putting it on the agenda for the council’s May 16 meeting.


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