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Friday, June 24, 2016 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 141 Issue 25

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8/2/2013 2:45:00 PM
State Focuses On Bridge, Sets Roadwork Aside in South Bristol
By J.W. Oliver

The Maine Department of Transportation has a new design in place for the South Bristol bridge project, but has set aside plans for nearby roadwork.

The department decided to eliminate the roadwork after receiving calls, emails and letters in protest of the department's plan to install storm drains and pave the shoulders of approximately 4000 feet of Route 129 to address bicycle and pedestrian safety.

"We need to deliver a bridge," DOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note said after an Aug. 1 meeting about the project at South Bristol School. "That swing bridge is breaking down all the time."

"I think everybody's ready to move forward, so that's what we decided to do - focus on the bridge and move forward," Van Note said.

The department has final plans for the roadwork in place, DOT Chief Engineer Joyce Taylor said, and if, in the future, the community presents a "united front" in favor of the work, the department could reconsider.

"You need to approach us at this point," Taylor said.

"I would challenge you, as a community, to have that conversation and get back to us," she said.

South Bristol Board of Selectmen Chairman Chester Rice said the DOT asked the selectmen a couple of weeks ago whether they would "give up the road portion of this project to save the bridge."

"We did say yes because the most important part of this project is to get the bridge built," Rice said. "We can do without the road, but we need the bridge."

Rice thanked the department for "going the extra mile for the community" in the lengthy design and planning process. "I hope everybody is happy with what the state has done," he said.

The DOT and engineering firm Hardesty & Hanover LLP plan to complete the design and advertise for bids by late 2013 with the goal of opening the new bridge to traffic by mid-2015.

The comments from the large crowd in the school gym were generally in favor of the new design.

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