Bethel selectmen endorse full closure for Route 2 bridge work
Bethel selectmen Monday gave their support to closing down the Route 2 overpass next spring while new decking is installed.
The six-inch concrete deck slab on the 48-year-old bridge is in “serious” condition, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.
Options for rerouting traffic while the work takes place include closing one side of the bridge at a time, or closing it entirely and detouring traffic.
The topic was discussed briefly by selectmen in June. This week Steve Bodge, the project manager, told the board that MDOT prefers to close the bridge.
“We’ll get a better product. We’ll get one deck instead of two pieces of deck put together. It will last longer, and ride better,” he said.
In addition, he said, MDOT estimates that 15 to 20 percent of the $800,000 cost can be saved by closure.
The project would also be completed more quickly, said Bodge – in two months, compared to three-and-a-half to six with a one-lane setup.
Bodge said in order to finish in two months, MDOT would pursue an “accelerated” construction schedule.
An earlier estimate had put the work period with full closure at three months.
Another hearing planned
A detour, said Bodge, would utilize state routes “so we’re not asking to use town roads.”
Selectmen questioned him about some details of the detour, and expressed concern that MDOT consider the layout for westbound chip trucks that would be turning from Route 2 onto the Parkway under the arrangement.
They also recommended a rough construction window of mid-April to late June, to avoid most summer tourist traffic.
A public hearing on the plans for the project took place two months ago, and was sparsely attended, the officials said. When further details of the detour are worked out, MDOT will hold another hearing, likely in October.