St. John Valley

Walls go up as bridge and port of entry projects make progress

MADAWASKA, Maine — Madawaska McDonald’s walls have come down and the new Land Port of Entry walls are going up, pushing the border crossing project forward. 

After the General Services Administration announced in the fall of 2019 that the federal government wanted to put a new land port of entry on the site where a 48-year-old McDonald’s restaurant stood, the building was officially torn down Thursday, April 7, to make way for the relocated border crossing.

Along with the border crossing station comes the new international bridge being built over the St. John River, spanning between Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick. The bridge is a collaborative project between independent contractor Reed & Reed of Woolwich and New Brunswick-based Greenfield Construction, along with the Maine and New Brunswick transportation departments. 

With the land now clear for the border crossing station, General Services Administration Regional Public Affairs Officer Paul Hughes said the next several weeks will include installing precast concrete wall panels for the two buildings at the port. The project is on schedule with the  expected timeline for the structures. 

As for the bridge, Andrew Lathe with Maine Department of Transportation said that a work trestle has been removed from the water in preparation for the St. John River’s ice melt. The trestle is used to assemble concrete seals and caps needed to construct the five 60-foot-tall pier shafts on which the bridge will rest once it is built. 

So far, the construction crew has not been met with any complications due to the ice or other environmental conditions, Lathe said. 

“Currently, the prime contractor, Reed & Reed, is working on the new U.S. abutment with the installation of formwork, reinforcing steel and concrete placements,” Lathe said. “Reed is also installing a cofferdam for pier No. 1 on the U.S. side.”

The site of the 48 year old McDonald’s in Madawaska is now flattened land, making way for the new land port of entry project on Apr. 19. (Emily Jerkins | St. John Valley Times)

Pier No. 1 is further up on the embankment and not in the water — unlike piers 2 through 5 that the contractor completed last fall/winter. On the Canadian side, Greenfield — Reed & Reed’s subcontractor — is installing micropiles that will support the new abutment extension near the Canadian port of entry, Lathe said.

The work trestle will be reinstalled over the water this spring and contractors will finish the abutments and pier caps on the Canadian and U.S. sides before installing the steel superstructure late this summer, Lathe said. 

The land port of entry is projected to be essentially complete and operational in late 2023, which coincides with the opening of Maine Department of Transportation’s International Bridge Project. For now, the existing century-old bridge is in use, though a 5-ton weight limit was imposed in 2017.

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