TREMONT — Drivers here will get a break before the next road construction project – replacement of the Clark Bridge – brings traffic to crawl on the Tremont Road.
Onsite construction of the bridge is scheduled to begin in June of 2017, about 18 months after the rebuilding of a .4-mile stretch from the bridge to the Burnt Hill Road is completed.
The schedule was announced at a Sept. 16 public hearing at the Tremont town office. Leanne Timberlake, project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation, and Tim Bryant, an engineer with VHB, the firm designing the bridge replacement, discussed the project in front of a small audience of town and national park officials and one member of the general public.
The bridge spans the narrow passage between the Bass Harbor Marsh and Bass Harbor itself and provides the shortest route between the villages of Bernard and Bass Harbor and the town of Southwest Harbor. Therefore, the bridge is a vital link, and concerns have been expressed about maintaining traffic flow and access for emergency vehicles. Engineers estimate the daily average number of vehicle trips across the bridge at 3,190.
Timberlake and Bryant said one-way traffic would be maintained while construction is underway using an automated traffic signal system. In response to a question from Keith Higgins, the town’s fire chief, Bryant said emergency responders would be able to override the signals electronically to allow swift passage.
The project is to be done in phases and will go out for bid in August 2016, Bryant said. Once the bid is awarded, work is to begin offsite on the precast concrete components of the bridge.
Onsite construction begins in June 2017. Restoration of two-way traffic is expected in December 2017, with final paving completed the following May.