Alna’s next Ben Brook bridge to get $570K from fed omnibus deal

Fri, 01/13/2023 - 8:45am

Alna’s project to replace a 1955 bridge at Ben Brook on Egypt Road is getting $570,000 from the Omnibus bill President Joseph Biden signed this month, First Selectman Ed Pentaleri announced Jan. 11.

He said the award follows other efforts in which the town won a $125,000 Department of Environmental Protection stream-crossing improvement grant and Midcoast Conservancy landed a $75,000 national fish passage program grant for the project. Once Calderwood Engineering has designed the part of the project that will remove a longtime blockage for fish, the town can better estimate the project’s whole cost and seek more grants, he said in the board meeting at the town office and over Zoom. “The good news is, there are a lot of opportunities out there, and we’ve got some good folks helping us secure that funding.”

The funds already won are “a great leverage” for getting more, Third Selectman Charles Culbertson added. On a question from resident Beth Whitney, Pentaleri said he would guess the project will end up running a million dollars and that waiting would only cost more, especially if Egypt Road washed out there.

Selectmen voted to have Calderwood do up to $25,000 in survey and geotechnical work “to the extent reimbursable under” the stream crossing grant. 

Pentaleri thanked those he said have helped since then-new Second Selectman Linda Kristan read Maine Department of Transportation’s latest “bad bridge” letter about the site. “Linda ... began working very diligently to address the issue head-on.”

Pentaleri said MDOT’s April 2021 letter and one in 2013 outlined issues and in 2014 the town did an approximately $40,000 fix. Getting “exactly the same” letter in 2021 meant “we clearly did not correct the root cause of the problem,” he said. According to Wiscasset Newspaper files, the 2013 and 2021 letters each stated a stone retaining wall downstream had severe movement and the road could have a serious washout if stones collapse into the brook.

Pentaleri said Midcoast Conservancy, Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Lincoln County commissioners and Administrator Carrie Kipfer, resident Paul Crandall and U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and their staffs have all helped. He said Crandall suggested asking the Congressional delegation.

In December 2021, Calderwood recommended replacing the bridge over other options for the site.

Also Jan. 11, the board accepted “with reluctance” Whitney’s resignation from the planning board after 17 years of service. Selectmen said alternate Katy Papagiannis will serve as a full member and the selectboard will appoint an alternate to serve out Whitney’s term that ends in March 2027. Selectmen had a hearing on and adopted an updated general assistance ordinance Pentaleri said follows a Maine Municipal Association model and does not require a town vote. And Pentaleri said an MMA risk reduction grant Kristan helped the town get will cover nearly all the cost of safety fencing’s installation earlier Jan. 11 at a drop-off near Head Tide Dam.