Bridge inspection work scheduled as travel ban extends
MADAWASKA, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation will be conducting its annual inspection of the Madawaska International Bridge from Monday, June 15, to Friday, June 19.
The current 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.
Officials with the Maine and New Brunswick transportation agencies, engineering consultants and other representatives from U.S. and Canadian agencies unveiled plans in January 2019 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 inspection work would have taken place in July, but they “are doing the work in June to coincide with the current federal travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the MDOT said.
“The structure has known deficiencies, structural concerns, and a rapid rate of deterioration that need to be properly evaluated annually to allow for continued safe use,” it said.
International travel between the United States and Canada was strictly limited in March in hopes of deterring the spread of COVID-19. The bridge has been closed to public traffic since. The ban is scheduled to be lifted June 22, but could be extended.
MDOT plans to conduct work between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. during the daylight to “ensure safety, thoroughness and the quality of the inspection.”
“MaineDOT understands the impacts to the neighboring communities and appreciates the public’s patience as we work to keep this bridge safe until we replace it,” the department said.
The International Bridge replacement project is scheduled to go out to bid later this year.