Some loud noises have been creeping over Bangor for the last few nights, but they’re not from any of the usual suspects, such as jets flying into the airport or a country singer crooning on the waterfront.
Rather, the noises have been coming from the heavy machinery that the Maine Department of Transportation is using to replace the bridge that carries Ohio Street over Interstate 95.
As part of that project, which started last month, construction workers spent the last week using an excavator with a special hydraulic hammer attachment to remove the bridge’s top deck, according to Maine DOT engineer Nathan Pukay. That created the driving, jackhammer-type sound that echoed across sections of Bangor and Brewer on a few nights.
The clatter prompted a number of residents to register their concerns on Facebook and with officials, according to City Engineer John Theriault, who estimated the city received about a dozen complaints.
After MaineDOT received “a few noise complaints” about the work, it adjusted its schedule so the loudest tasks happened earlier in the evening, between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., according to spokesperson Paul Merrill.
Removal of the bridge’s deck is now complete, but there will be some additional periods of noisy work before the demolition is completed in April, he said. But the state is constrained by the need to do the work at night, when it can safely close sections of I-95, he said.
“Demolishing a 60-year-old bridge that runs over a major interstate is a big job. We’re doing our best to keep the public informed and be responsive to input,” he said. “The reason we do this work at night is to minimize the traffic impacts on I-95.”
MaineDOT expects to remove the beams of the bridge over about four nights on the week beginning March 22, which could create “moderate noise,” according to a schedule provided by Pukay.
Then, beginning April 9, it expects to demolish the bridge’s pier over another four nights, which could create “moderate to high noise.” That’s the same level of noise as the deck removal was expected to create this past week.
The agency expects to begin constructing the replacement overpass in May and open it by Aug. 31. During the project, the agency has closed the bridge to drivers and pedestrians and detoured them along nearby roads.
A contractor hired by the state, T Buck Construction, is building the overpass with newer materials that are resistant to corrosion. The replacement will also have 18 more inches of vertical clearance than the current overpass. The total cost of the project is $5.9 million.