Thompsons Bridge on Southport will close Sept. 3. A new bridge has been looked at for several years and is now becoming a reality.
The original bridge was built in 1907 for $1,500.29. Until the 1970s, the span was made of wooden planks. These were replaced by today’s steel grate. The overall length of the bridge is 196 feet and the width is 20 feet. On average, the bridge is crossed 1,370 times a day.
Stantec of Topsham has designed and engineered the new bridge. It will be some four feet wider, allowing for shoulders outside the traffic lanes, and will be primarily concrete. “There will be a central pier, with pilings driven down some 90 feet to find good bedrock, and two abutments,” said Selectman Gerry Gamage.
Maine Department of Transportation on-site manager Glenn Philbrook expects a “work trestle for a crane will be built in the cove alongside the current bridge and then the bridge will be dismantled. Alternatively we will use the existing bridge for the crane and build the new bridge one half at a time.”
Either way, the bridge will be closed until May 21, 2020. Then it is hoped the project will be complete, but some daytime lane closures might still be needed.
The loudest part of the project will be driving the piles for the central pier, but “That shouldn’t take more than one day,” Philbrook said.
The bridge closure will mean traffic to the east side of Southport will be diverted around the island. Residents of the approximately 15 year-round households between Nickerson and Cross roads will be permitted to use Plummer Road to access their properties, while other local traffic may use Cross Road. Commercial traffic will diverted down the length of the island.
Work will continue Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and only if there is a time crunch towards the end will contractors work Saturdays.
The new bridge has a guaranteed lifespan of 75 years and is costing $3.47 million, 80% of it from federal funding, the rest from state funding. The cost includes all aspects of the project from pre-planning through construction.