BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A big construction project is set to affect thousands of drivers on mid-coast Route 1 starting Tuesday.
The Bath viaduct will be shut down Oct. 11. Drivers going both north and south will have to use detours to get around the construction for the next eight months.
The viaduct is a bridge that carries Route 1 over local streets. It’s a very busy stretch of road — the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) says Route 1 averages 30,000 vehicles per day. The intersection underneath is a complicated one because it is the primary entry point for Bath Iron Works traffic.
The bridge itself is about 60-years-old, and the Maine DOT says it is worn out.
The entire, 1,300-foot long structure will be demolished to the ground, and then replaced.
The project is on a fast track. The Maine DOT will close the viaduct just after midnight Monday, and the new one is supposed to be ready to open before the end of May.
The new structure will be built of reinforced concrete, and contractor Reed & Reed of Woolwich has already started building some of the pieces of the new bridge at another site. Those “pier tops,” as they are called, will be set on top of a new concrete pier, and then the concrete sections of the bridge superstructure will be placed on top. Those sections are being fabricated by a company in Canada and will be trucked to the site.
Drivers on Route 1 will face detours and likely delays during the eight-month construction process. Traffic signals were being reprogrammed on Monday, and detour signs were being installed in various locations. Project engineer Glenn Philbrook said the Maine DOT is hoping drivers will pay attention to the signs, and keep alert for traffic changes during the construction period.
“And we appreciate peoples’ patience,” said the engineer. “It's going to be noisy and inconvenient, but we’ll get it done as quickly as possible.”
The work will start as soon as the road is closed at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Philbrook says Reed & Reed crews will work 24 hours a day to demolish the old bridge, with a goal of having the structure gone by the end of November or early December. Then construction of the new viaduct can begin.
The Maine DOT has set up a special website for the Bath Viaduct project, which includes maps of the detour routes and will also include project updates.