A cannon points toward a bridge.
A Revolutionary War cannon lost in the Penobscot River in 1779 points toward the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, named for the Brewer officer who commanded the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg. Credit: Brian Swartz / BDN

Area residents who commute between Bangor and Brewer should prepare to see ongoing construction over the next few years.

The three bridges over the Penobscot River that connect Bangor and Brewer are scheduled to be rehabilitated in the coming years, according to the Maine Department of Transportation. Combined, the three projects are predicted to cost $5.7 million. Although the exact timeline isn’t available yet, the MDOT’s work plan includes the projects planned for between 2022 and 2024, though that may not be when the work actually gets completed. All projects have to go out to bid first, and often don’t start immediately after being awarded.

First, work on the Veterans Remembrance Bridge, which is part of I-395, is scheduled to go out to bid this winter and cost about $3.24 million, according to MaineDOT.

The work is focused on elements below the road itself, so traffic disruption will be minimal, but the road shoulders will be closed intermittently for material deliveries, according to Jeff Folsom, MaineDOT assistant bridge program manager. The project will include replacing deteriorated bridge bearings, improving drainage and rehabilitating some areas of its concrete substructure.

Nearly 3,700 vehicles drove over the Veterans Remembrance Bridge in one day in October 2017, according to MaineDOT traffic data. That’s the most recent day that traffic counts were recorded.

The MaineDOT will also rehabilitate the Penobscot Bridge and Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, costing another $1 million and $1.5 million, respectively.

Work on the Penobscot Bridge, which carries State Street from Brewer to Bangor, will also focus mainly on bridge elements below the road, Folsom said. The rehabilitation work, scheduled to go out to bid in 2024, will address some concrete deterioration, replace some bridge bearings and improve drainage. Traffic disruption is expected to be minimal, but a travel lane may be closed temporarily if crews need to work on bridge joints, Folsom said.

In a single day in September 2017, the MaineDOT found more than 22,400 vehicles traversed the Penobscot Bridge, according to traffic count data on the department’s website.  

On the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, which takes Union Street over the Penobscot River, the MaineDOT is planning to repave the bridge deck and reseal the bridge joints, which will require temporary lane closures, Folsom said. Some minor substructure repair will also be done as part of the project. Folsom said the road is only being resurfaced rather than entirely replaced, so the project should be quick with minimal traffic disruptions. Folsom didn’t say when that project will go out to bid.

Nearly 13,300 vehicles traveled across the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge daily in October 2020, according to MaineDOT traffic counts.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...