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Evan Lowell of TranSystems, the consulting firm for the project on the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge, describes the different elements of the work to be conducted.
Maine Department of Transportation Project Manager Stephen Bodge describes the project to be completed on the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge this spring and summer.
by Jessica Brophy
At a Department of Transportation public hearing at the Deer Isle town hall Tuesday, March 12, project manager Stephen Bodge announced inspection and bridge work that is likely to extend from April through September.
The work will require single-lane traffic for much of that time during working hours, explained Evan Lowell of TranSystems, the consulting group for the project. All lane closures will be done by flaggers with cones. This means weekend and after-hours traffic can use the bridge as normal. There may be times when work will take place overnight, and in these cases flaggers will continue to direct traffic during that time, said Lowell.
The bridge is due for its two-year inspection this year, and that will take place in April and May. The actual work project will take place June to September, according to DOT’s schedule.
The work scheduled to be conducted includes several smaller projects and issues beyond the DOT bridge maintenance crew’s ability, said Bodge. These issues were identified in a 2011 inspection of the bridge.
Aviation lights will be added to the top of both main bridge towers to comply with federal standards, said Lowell. These lights will be steady red lights, powered by solar panels, and directed skyward though they will be visible from the ground. “You won’t be able to read a book by them, or anything,” said Lowell.
Work will also include tightening the transverse cables (the ones that look like big “Xs” from one side of the bridge cables to the other). These cables help stiffen the bridge to prevent “racking” (twisting in the wind). Over time, they need to be tightened so as to help maintain their effectiveness and to maintain a 16-foot clearance from the deck of the bridge to the transverse cables.
There are also some cracks in a few steel beams where the decking is attached to the towers that are currently safe but need replacing to prevent further deterioration.
Two other smaller projects include fixing some of the handholds along the “inspection walkway” that goes up the main cables and the repair or replacement of approximately 67 “knee joints.” These “knee joints” are the fin-like things that connect the sides of the bridge to the grill-like narrow walkway on either side of the bridge. They help to stiffen the bridge as well, but are often hit by cars, plows or other objects. Once hit, their ability to stiffen the bridge is compromised.
Lowell stressed there was nothing wrong with the bridge currently that would limit its capacity, and the proposed project was more an investment in keeping the bridge in good shape. While the DOT is projecting the cost of the project at $720,000, Bodge said the cost could end up being closer to $1.1 million. Eighty percent of that funding will come from federal dollars.
“We understand that this is an important bridge and a million dollars for maintenance isn’t a lot compared to what it would cost to build new,” said Bodge.
Danny Oliver asked about the significant dip in the bridge’s surface at the finger joints (the metal that connects the suspended portion to the fixed portion on both sides), saying that it was rough on vehicles. Bodge said he and Lowell had discussed it and thought it could be attributed in part to heavier loads in more recent years.
“We keep a close eye on this bridge,” said Bodge.