The Stillwater Avenue bridge in Old Town will temporarily close starting Thursday night.
The Llewellyn G. Estes Memorial Bridge that carries Stillwater Avenue over the Stillwater River in Old Town. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The deteriorating bridge carrying Stillwater Avenue over the Stillwater River in Old Town will close temporarily starting Thursday night.

That closure, which will be in place starting at 10 p.m. Thursday and until about 4 a.m. Friday, will allow the Old Town Water District to secure a water pipe hanging beneath the Llewellyn G. Estes Memorial Bridge, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

For drivers looking to cross over from either side of the Stillwater River, they will have to take a 5-mile detour going through Orono on Bennoch Road to Route 2 and then onto College Avenue, or the reverse, the department said in a Wednesday evening bulletin.

Additional closures may be necessary for the water district to secure the pipe.

The Llewellyn G. Estes Memorial Bridge, built in 1952, has long been deteriorating, particularly its northern end. The state has been looking to replace the aging structure, but earlier this year rejected all bids when they came in nearly double the $20 million budget for the project.

Initially, the Department of Transportation planned to pair the bridge project with an overhaul of the crash-prone Bennoch Road and College Avenue intersections with Stillwater Avenue. Now, it plans to separate the projects in hopes of attracting more suitable bids.

Given the deteriorating condition of the bridge, a weight restriction put in place in July prohibits vehicles weighing more than 60,000 pounds from crossing the span. That’s proved troublesome for logging trucks in need of easy access to Interstate 95.

Many of them come from logging operations on the nearby Stud Mill Road, so they’ll instead get to I-95 using Gilman Falls Avenue.

The bridge won’t be replaced until 2024 at the earliest.