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International Bridge project to acquire McDonald’s property

MADAWASKA, Maine — The General Service Administration issued a notice Oct. 4 that informed of their decision to go with Alternative C for the Madawaska International Bridge which requires the acquisition of the current McDonald’s property — uprooting the fast food franchise. 

Officials with the Maine and New Brunswick transportation agencies, engineering consultants and other representatives from U.S. and Canadian agencies unveiled plans in January to build the new bridge extending from the existing span’s location in Edmundston and ending about 1,300 feet up the St. John River from the existing port of entry in Madawaska.

The bridge was built in 1921 and is about 20 years beyond its anticipated lifespan. After engineers expressed concerns about the bridge’s structural integrity in October 2017, officials restricted the bridge’s weight limit to five tons, severely limiting heavy commercial traffic. That action also prompted officials to move up the timeline for a resolution.

In December, Bill Plumpton, the senior vice president of Gannette Fleming, the engineering firm hired by MDOT, General Services Administration and the federal highway administration to work on this project, outlined the three alternatives GSA considered for the land point of entry. Plumpton said alternatives B and C would require the GSA to buy the McDonald’s property for either of those models to work.

“In the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, Land Port of Entry Alternative C is the preferred alternative, and it requires the acquisition of four properties, including the McDonald’s,” said Regional Public Affairs Officer for the GSA, Paul Hughes. 

Town Manager Gary Picard said he was not surprised the GSA made that decision, and said they “have consistently mentioned at the public hearings related to the project that option C was considered to be the favored option for various reasons.”

“While I’m am not privy to negotiations between the GSA and property owners such as [the owner of] McDonald’s, I am aware that there is much speculation as to whether McDonald’s will rebuild,” Picard said. 

Multiple efforts to reach the Madawaska McDonald’s owner who lives in Canada proved unsuccessful, as did communications with the McDonald’s Corp.  

“The town has had communications with McDonald’s Corp. to inform them of options for relocation sites such as the Mid Town Shopping plaza, and we are having continued discussions with them about the future of McDonald’s in our community,” Picard said.

 “We are hopeful for their continued presence in our community, and will work with them to the best extent that we can to make rebuilding a viable option for them,” he said.

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