A lone pedestrian wearing a cloth mask walks across the pedestrian bridge over the Kenduskeag Stream in downtown Bangor in this April 6, 2020, file photo.

By late fall, the footbridge that crosses the Kenduskeag Stream in downtown Bangor will be replaced with a new, modern-looking steel truss bridge, after the City Council on Monday approved a $1.3 million construction contract.

The Willard C. Orr footbridge, which opened in 1980 and carries pedestrian traffic across the Kenduskeag Stream from the downtown Bangor parking garage to the Penobscot Judicial Center, closed on Monday ahead of its replacement, which will be completed by Devoe Construction of Eagle Lake. The city received eight bids for the project, ranging in price from $1.86 million to Devoe’s winning low bid of $1.275 million.

Bangor’s city engineer, John Theriault, said that people will begin to see sections of the old bridge removed by crane within the next few weeks, and by the end of July, most of it will be gone. At that point, surveyors will come in to take final measurements for a prefabricated steel truss bridge, which will take a few months to build off-site and be shipped to Bangor.

If all goes according to plan, the new steel bridge will be installed in five 80-foot sections in October and November, and will reopen by Thanksgiving.

“It’s an exciting project, and I think it will be really interesting to see the old bridge being taken down, and the new bridge being installed,” Theriault said.

The new bridge will be 12 feet wide, instead of the 20-foot width of the current bridge, and will be green. New lighting will be installed, and its narrower width will make it easier to remove snow. Theriault said one reason why the upper part of the original bridge decayed so much in the past few decades was due to the huge amounts of road salt used on it — up to four times the amount used on other city streets and sidewalks.

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“The bones of the bridge are good, but the concrete on top was just falling apart,” he said.

The bridge replacement is part of a larger project to modernize and redesign the area between Broad Street and the Kenduskeag Stream in downtown Bangor. Work has already been completed on three other projects, including moving the vehicle entrance to the parking garage from the left to the right side of the building, re-landscaping and installing new sidewalks in the triangle-shaped area between Merchants Plaza and Pickering Square, and fixing up the courtyard on the backside of 44 through 60 Main St. where there’s outdoor seating for Nocturnem Draft Haus.

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Design work on the final part of the project — redesigning Pickering Square and the bus depot — is still pending, after the City Council voted in January to keep the bus depot in Pickering Square.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.