TREMONT — Two bridge replacement projects scheduled to begin here next year are bound to cause delays and, in one case, require a lengthy detour through the Seawall section of Acadia National Park.
About a dozen people attended a Dec. 13 public hearing on the replacement of the Clark Bridge near the Tremont Consolidated School and the Marsh Bridge on the Bass Harbor Road at the town line with Southwest Harbor. Maine Department of Transportation project manager Leanne Timberlake gave an overview of the work and answered questions, along with Robert Blunt and Gordon Edington of VHB, the engineering firm for the projects.
Originally, the Clark Bridge on the Tremont Road was scheduled for replacement and went out to bid in 2016. When bids came in higher than expected, the design was modified and the work rescheduled to include replacement of the Marsh Bridge. Tying the projects together should result in lower costs, the engineers said.
Plans now call for the Clark Bridge to go out to bid in August 2018 with construction to begin in November, after completion of the Marsh Bridge project, Edington said.
“The new bridge will be significantly wider than the old bridge,” Edington said.
The existing bridge, constructed in 1924, is 15 feet wide. The new bridge is to have two 11-foot lanes and 4-foot shoulders and a sidewalk.
While the bridge is under construction, traffic is to be rerouted onto a single-lane temporary road and bridge just to the north. Traffic signals will be used to control the flow of vehicles.
Edington assured those in attendance that the huge Siberian elm tree on school grounds next to the bridge will remain standing.
Completion of the Clark Bridge is expected in the summer of 2019.
The Marsh Bridge, also known locally as the Adams Bridge, was built in 1931. Replacement will require a full closure; due to the location, use of a temporary bridge is not possible.
“There were lots of environmental concerns with this project,” Blunt said.
Bids are expected to go out in August along with the Clark Bridge project. Construction is scheduled to begin in October and take about 60 days.
“We feel we can get that done in a short time,” Blunt said.
Closing the bridge will require a detour on Route 102A through the villages of Bass Harbor in Tremont and Seawall and Manset in Southwest Harbor.
Several people at the hearing asked about a sidewalk on the bridge, which overlooks the Bass Harbor Marsh and is a popular spot for viewing the scenery and taking photographs.
Timberlake said there are no plans for a sidewalk. The bridge is surrounded by Acadia National Park property, she said, so the size of the project is constrained.
“We’re at a maximum for staying off park property,” she said.
Tremont Fire Chief Keith Higgins said he considers it to be unsafe for pedestrians in the area and people shouldn’t be encouraged to stop there.
Others disagreed. One person asked if a sidewalk could be added onto the side of the bridge itself. Timberlake said they would discuss that possibility.