The Cornshop Bridge, on Depot Street in the picturesque New England town of Bridgton, Maine, is showing its age.
Built in 1947, the short bridge spans Stevens Brook, and has been targeted by the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) for replacement in 2025.
The agency currently is working on the initial stages of the project but has recently produced a "scope of work" video outlining the latest plan and why the bridge needs to be replaced. MaineDOT also is looking for public comments.
Julie Brask, MaineDOT's project manager, told the Bridgton News that the bridge rebuild will use both state and federal funding. The project is due to be advertised to potential contractors in 2024 with boots-on-the-ground activity not likely until the year after.
The 75-year-old structure is just over 40 ft. long and is made up of a simple steel span with a reinforced concrete deck. Its width is 22 ft. curb to curb with a painted sidewalk on the upstream side.
The News reported that the building project will consist of a full rebuild of the bridge on its current site — what MaineDOT calls an "on-alignment replacement."
The state agency proposes that the Cornshop Bridge be closed during construction with all traffic detoured to U.S. Highway 302.
Structure Suffering From Deterioration
Lauren Flanders, a senior structural engineer with the Portland office of Stantec, told the Bridgton News that the project is currently in its early design phase with state transportation officials gathering information and looking at alternatives.
She added that the old bridge's stacked granite abutments, which predate the 1947 construction, are in "poor condition," noting that the timber grillage is "rotting."
Flanders described the granite abutment as having "many wide, deep voids and evidence of shifting and settling, including cracked and out-of-plumb stones." She explained that the northeast wingwall has severe damage and "has failed and slumped into the river."
Other existing problems include:
- Exterior beams that are heavily corroded, including "holes and heavy flaking" rust.
- Its interior beams have freckled rust and paint and are "heavily deteriorated" at the ends.
- The bridge deck has multiple areas of poorly joined concrete with exposed and corroded rebar.
- Many small cracks can be seen on its paved wearing surface.
- The guardrail's safety is substandard for a bridge of its length and height over water, and the curb has deteriorated since its last replacement in 1989.
According to Flanders, the new bridge span will be between 40- to 60-ft.-long and will include either precast NEXT Beams or composite G-beams (girder beams), each with cast-in-place concrete decks.
The state's plan calls for replacing the painted sidewalk on the Cornshop Bridge with a raised pedestrian walkway.
Flanders noted that "closing the bridge during construction is the best option for traffic control."
The next step in MaineDOT's schedule for the project is to have its preliminary bridge plan complete in July 2023, followed by an on-demand formal public meeting in August before construction begins in early 2025.
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