Pratts Island residents OK bridge plan

Posted:  Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 10:30pm

Story Location:
Southport  Maine
United States

With closure and construction in sight, Pratts Island residents came out to support a plan that shuts down the bridge earlier and more often.

More than 20 people came to the Southport Town Hall August 8 to give the go-ahead to marine contractor Skip Rideout to start work earlier on the Pratts Island Bridge with the trade-off being a shorter closure time once fall arrives.

The group spoke in favor of allowing Rideout an earlier timetable with the trade-off being a shortened construction time after the bridge is closed.

Emery Royall said having a three-hour window when the bridge is only open to foot traffic in September is better than pushing the starting date into hurricane and cold weather season.

“If we can have a shorter amount of time in November, when power lines will come down and when we need fuel, it will be better for people who live there year-round,” she said.

Pratts Islands residents came to a consensus at the meeting, which will cause three-hour weekday closings in September to help move the finish date up from late November to mid-November.

The original plan was to wait to begin until October 17, when the island would be mostly empty of summer residents. In an earlier meeting, Rideout said that if he started construction on October 17, work would likely be completed before Thanksgiving.

An earlier start will also mean an earlier reopening, Rideout said. If things go to plan and the weather cooperates, it could cut weeks off the finish date, he added.

The tentative schedule is to close the bridge to cars from 9 a.m. until noon, when it reopens During that three hour window, foot traffic will still be able to cross back and forth.

The bridge will be closed to car traffic for three-hour blocks after September 2, and from October 17 until it is completed. Residents will always be able to walk across the bridge to Southport and a fire truck will be parked on Pratts Island to provide fire protection.

Until October 17, the bridge will remain open on the weekends.

Masonry work is slated to begin the week of August 12-16, with pilings and other structural work beginning after Labor Day.

One of the problems raised at the meeting was if residents would know when the bridge was inaccessible by car, to which Rideout said there would not only be a board announcing times and dates when the bridge would be shuttered to auto traffic, but his number would be made available.

“It can be very flexible,” he said. “If someone has an appointment, or the time just doesn't work, call me and we can change times.

“You will know when the bridge is closed two, three, four, five days ahead of time, and we'll try to make it work for everyone.”

Residents were advised to make end-of-season or winter arrangements immediately, to account for the bridge being closed at the end of October. Services such as fuel oil and wood deliveries, checking water systems before winter and any other work or services that need to be completed before the winter should be done sooner rather than later, Selectboard members Gerry Gamage and Smith Climo said.

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 207-633-4620 or Follow him on Twitter: @BBRegisterBen