Bye-bye bridge?

Woolwich talks marsh, ‘dangerous’ intersection
Tue, 10/08/2019 - 8:15am

Woolwich’s select board and road commissioner want to do away with a bridge and move George Wright Road’s south intersection as part of a salt marsh restoration project.

They shared their preferences Monday with Ruth Indrick of Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. Bath-based KELT is facilitating a restoration effort.

The small bridge and box culvert are being eyed as part of a larger study to return meadowland off Route 1 to a tidal saltwater marsh. Indrick is project coordinator. The goal is to improve inland tidal flow from the Sasanoa River to Back River Creek to aid fish migration and create habitat for migratory birds.

David King Sr. said he hoped Maine Department of Transportation would consider moving George Wright Road’s south entrance. 

“We’ve talked about moving it further north. It depends on whether we could get access to build the road. That would also eliminate the expense of replacing the bridge,” he said pointing to an aerial map.

Road Commissioner Jack Shaw called the George Wright Road intersection dangerous, the scene of many accidents over the years.

“I really think the solution would be to move the south entrance to the top of the hill, which would be safer and far less expensive than building a new bridge and culvert,” he told Indrick.

Indrick said the project was still several years away. Part of it would involve the state raising the level of the highway to eliminate flooding during extreme tides. Bath Water District also wants to replace its water main here, she added.

 “Once we have the engineering and design work done, the next step will be to seek funding sources.” She said Woolwich would receive $40,000 for engineering. Indrick said she would share the town’s suggestions with MDOT officials.

The 1934 bridge of steel and concrete is 22 feet long. MDOT’s latest inspection gave the bridge a poor rating due to erosion of its embankment and problems associated with the culvert.

Several years ago, the town hired Calderwood Engineering of Richmond to estimate the cost of replacing the bridge and culvert.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife owns the property on the upstream side of Route 1.  

Last month, MDOT announced plans for replacing the two-lane Route 1 bridge near Taste of Maine. The state hopes to finance the $30 to $35 million project with federal highway monies. Construction is slated to start in 2022.