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Business and Economy

Maine is banning commercial vehicles on a deteriorating bridge between Brunswick and Topsham

brunswick bridge 1.PNG
Maine DOT
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The Frank J. Wood Bridge between Brunswick and Topsham.

The Maine Department of Transportation is prohibiting commercial vehicles from travelling across the Frank J. Wood Bridge between Brunswick and Topsham because of its poor structural condition.

brunswick bridge 6.PNG
Maine DOT
A deteriorating beam photographed during a September 2021 inspection of the Frank J. Wood Bridge between Brunswick and Topsham.

The department had previously banned any vehicles weighing more than 20,000 pounds after a recent inspection showed substantial deterioration, including corrosion, rusting and holes developing on some of the beams

But MDOT Chief Engineer Joyce Taylor said that because many large vehicles ignored that limit, the state is imposing a ban on all commercial vehicles, and is installing cameras and license plate readers for enforcement.

"Generally, folks who are contractors, who are driving their pickup truck, or van, with your plumbing, electrical, it's not you," Taylor said. "It's really the box trucks and anything bigger than that that we're talking about. And buses."

Taylor said that while the bridge is safe for regular transit, reducing travel from buses, large trucks, and vehicles with more than two axles will help the structure last longer.

brunswick bridge 4 cracking pier.PNG
Maine DOT
A cracked pier photographed during a September 2021 inspection of the Frank J. Wood Bridge between Brunswick and Topsham.

"So if you can keep less weight on the bridge, it's better, in terms of trying to save the bridge, all the way to the end here, when a new bridge is open," she said.

The state initially planned to put a construction contract to replace the bridge out to bid in 2018. But that's been delayed by a legal challenge from a local group called the Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge, which is calling for the bridge to be rehabbed instead.

Taylor said the agency hopes to begin construction as soon as possible, and expects the process to take about three years.