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Judge allows replacement of Brunswick-Topsham span to continue

The Frank J. Wood Bridge in Brunswick.
Maine DOT
The Frank J. Wood Bridge in Brunswick.

Federal Judge Lance Walker has turned down a request by Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Bridge Foundation for a preliminary injunction that would halt work on building a new span to link Topsham and Brunswick.

Early work on the project has begun. The groups want the old bridge rehabilitated rather than replaced.

The state says it would cost 53% more to rehabilitate and maintain the 91-year-old bridge, rather than building new. After the opponents sued in 2019, Judge Walker in 2021 ruled for the state. A federal appeals court largely agreed, but required the state to justify why the 53% figure was a cost of extraordinary magnitude.

The state made its case this past January. Opponents filed a new suit, arguing the state failed to factor in construction cost increases in recent years. Judge Walker will hold a hearing in October on the merits of that claim.

In denying the preliminary injunction. he notes the existing bridge won't be demolished until after the new one is built, giving him time to hold that hearing and issue a ruling. Judge Walker also writes he believes it's unlikely the opponents will succeed on the merits of the case.