Originally published in The Weekly Packet, October 11, 2018
MDOT forum to allow public comment on Falls Bridge options
Tuesday, October 16, 6 p.m., at Blue Hill Town Hall
by Anne Berleant
Blue Hill—Replace or rehabilitate? After narrowing down options for the 1926 Falls Bridge, which the Maine Department of Transportation put on its project list seven years ago, the public is invited to a meeting on October 16 to learn more and hear and make public comments, prior to a later public hearing on MDOT’s final decision.
The meeting is another in a series of public meetings and presentations, and 18 months of Falls Bridge Advisory Committee meetings, on the pluses and minuses of different options, along with archaeological, historical preservation and environmental factors that weigh into the final decision.
An alternative location for a new bridge is also being considered, but at almost twice the price, it appears unlikely MDOT would finance that option.
Also under consideration is a temporary bridge during construction, which is expected to last from 18 to 24 months, or use a 20-mile detour on local roads. In-water construction would be performed November through March. If a new bridge is built, constructing the pieces off site and then joining them on site is an option, which would shrink the on-site construction window to 50 to 60 days.
For both options, travel lanes will be 11 feet, and the bridge raised 2 to 4 feet, allowing for expected sea level rise and also leveling the steep approach from the South Blue Hill side. The question of a sidewalk on one side of the bridge also remains, which would narrow the shoulder and hold the town responsible for snow-clearing.
Editor’s note: This story was revised October 12 based on new information received on the substance of the MDOT meeting, which is not to present its decision but to invite more public comment and provide information.