SOUTH BRISTOL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's busiest drawbridge needs to be replaced, but some people are not happy with the design for the new one. The old swing bridge in South Bristol opens about eight thousand times a year --more than any other drawbridge in the state, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.
But the bridge almost eighty years old, and the DOT says it's simply worn out. Drivers hear loud clunks and feel a distinct bump when they cross the bridge. Steve Bodge of the MDOT says that's all a result of the bridge abutments settling and the wear and tear on the span itself.
They want to replace it with a bridge that lifts up to open -- alled a European Heel Trunion Bascule Bridge -- the first of its kind in Maine. The design would look very different from the old bridge, with large counterweights on either side above the bridge. As a result, some year-round and summer residents don't like the design, and complain it won't fit in with the small fishing village. The DOT says it's a matter of money. The bascule design, Bodge says, would cost about the same as a new swing bridge, but would cost substantially less to operate and maintain over the years.
Many year-round residents say they support the new design, and are eager for the project to move forward. They cite safety concerns if the bridge gets stuck in the open position, which does happen occasionally. But some do admit they will miss the old swing bridge.
People opposed to the design have given the DOT a petition with more than a hundred names, and are still hoping to have changes made. The DOT says it is still trying to come up with design changes that can make the new bridge look smaller. But they're planning to start construction next summer. Total cost for the project : $7.3 million. About half of that is for the bridge itself, the remainder for engineering work and for reconstruction of 4,000 feet of road on either side of the bridge.