Total Estimated Project Cost:
The project replaces an 80 year-old moveable span truss bridge at the end of its service life with a high level, fixed bridge over the Kennebec River on State Route 197 between Richmond and Dresden, located upstream from the existing bridge. The Maine Kennebec Bridge is an important crossing on the Kennebec River as it connects the communities and links Dresden and points east with Interstate 295. This structurally deficient structure contains five fracture critical spans. The existing bridge has one movable section (swing span) that allows larger vessels to pass the navigable portion of the Kennebec River. Navigability on this section of the Kennebec River is extremely important, especially for the U.S. Coast Guard which operates two vessels for ice breaking and aids to navigation. These vessels are utilized during most winters to prevent ice jams that can cause flooding in many upstream areas. At the request of the U.S. Coast Guard, the new bridge will provide sufficient vertical clearance to eliminate the need for a movable span, and will provide reliable access and regional mobility for both highway and marine traffic. In addition, the current bridge is only 20 feet wide, and often acts as a single lane bridge when logging and other large trucks cross. The new structure will provide two travel lanes plus shoulders to safely accommodate trucks, bicycles and pedestrians.
The project involves significant collaboration with Federal and State agencies. The Kennebec River is home to the Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sturgeon and Short-nose sturgeon, federally listed endangered and threatened species. Extensive consultation and coordination continues with the National Marine Fisheries Service in order to protect these species. The bridge is also directly upstream of the Swan Island Nature Preserve which is managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The new bridge will be located further away from this property. Consultation for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act was completed with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement in March 2012. The process was expedited to allow archeological data recovery from the site of 18th century Fort Richmond to proceed this summer, allowing the project to remain on schedule. The data recovery element is being used as a means to educate others on the history of the area. Please see http://mainehumanities.org/programs/history-camp/fort-richmond.html for more information.
The bridge is also eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. A programmatic Section 4(f) evaluation for replacement of the historic bridge was completed in April 2012. Other environmental approvals are expected to be completed as scheduled in October 2012. Construction is expected to start in May 2013 with completion in November 2015.