The deteriorating bridge that carries Interstate 95 over busy Broadway in Bangor is up for a replacement in the coming years, with the new bridge expected to be built to last a century.
The 152-foot steel girder bridge that’s crossed nearly 50,000 times a day is now more than 60 years old, having been built in 1960. The goal isn’t only to replace the aging bridge for the sake of traffic on I-95, but for the bridge replacement to make the stretch of Broadway that runs underneath it more passable for drivers and pedestrians.
The span has “lasted beyond its design life,” design engineer Theresa McAuliffe of McFarland-Johnson, a consulting firm attached to the project, said in a video posted to the Maine Department of Transportation website.
More than 27,000 people go northbound on I-95 over the bridge each day, she said, with more than 20,000 crossing it while headed southbound.
“The primary purpose of this project is to address the poor condition of the bridge,” she said.
The Maine Department of Transportation expects to advertise the project to potential bidders in the spring of 2023, with construction starting later that year and running into 2025. The department is soliciting public comments on the project until Dec. 22. A federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will cover a portion of the project’s nearly $20 million cost.
Construction will be characterized by lane closures on both I-95 and Broadway as well as occasional full road closures, McAuliffe said.
Construction crews would limit full closures to the hours between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. to minimize disruptions during peak traffic, she said.
The Broadway bridge replacement would be the latest I-95 span in Bangor to be replaced in recent years. The replacement of the bridge that carries Ohio Street over I-95 was completed last year, and the $10 million replacement of the Union Street bridge over I-95 happened around four years ago.
The construction of the latter bridge in particular became known for its traffic disruption. In a City Council workshop meeting on Monday, interim City Manager Debbie Laurie noted that such disruptions would likely occur with the Broadway project.
One of the concrete columns supporting the bridge was last repaired 40 years ago and has deteriorated so much it needs to be replaced entirely, McAuliffe said. The deck is also in poor condition and needs replacement, having not seen rehabilitation since the mid-1980s, she said.
The steel beams also bear the scars of multiple overheight vehicle collisions, including scrape marks and greater sustained damage. The bridge’s current height of 14 feet, 3 inches, will be increased with the replacement to prevent further damage, McAuliffe said.
The replacement bridge will also create a wider opening for the roadway underneath, wide enough to allow for 6-foot sidewalks on both sides of Broadway, McAuliffe said.
The current design of the bridge also complicates potential corridor improvements to Broadway, such as the addition of bike lanes, McAuliffe said.
It is also dark under the bridge, and the location needs better lighting for pedestrians, she said. The new bridge will have underbridge lighting, she said.
This is not the only improvement slated for Broadway in the coming years. The city has been planning a $1.65 million project, for which it recently secured a federal grant, to improve the safety of the busy section of Broadway where drivers exit from and enter I-95.