MADAWASKA, Maine — An annual inspection will temporarily shut down traffic across the international bridge between Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick, this week.
The 100-year-old bridge is deteriorating at a rapid rate and has several known problems, including structural concerns, according to Paul Merrill, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Transportation.
The bridge has had a 5-ton weight limit on it since 2017 and the Department of Transportation is building a replacement. The new bridge is expected to be done in 2023. Meanwhile, the department is monitoring the old bridge to make sure it is safe enough for people to use.
The upcoming inspection will cause daily traffic closures from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from June 6 to 11 to ensure the safety of people using the bridge as well as those inspecting it. The sidewalk will remain open for foot traffic across the bridge.
HNTB, an American infrastructure design firm, who is doing the inspection on the bridge, has analyzed the structure before to help determine the weight limit. HNTB is using an under bridge inspection truck, which has a special parabolic bucket that gives it maneuverability and places minimal stress on the bridge structure, according to Damian Veilleux, a public information officer for the Department of Transportation.
“A quick Google search of ‘under bridge inspection truck’ pulls up some pretty striking images,” Veilleux said. “Definitely not for anyone with a fear of heights.”
While traffic shutdowns occur, those who want to cross between the United States and Canada will have to detour through either the Fort Kent or Van Buren international bridges unless crossing by foot.
“MaineDOT understands the impacts to the neighboring communities and appreciates the public’s patience as we work to keep this bridge safe until we replace it,” Merrill said.