MADAWASKA, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation has been awarded $36 million to replace the Madawaska International Bridge.
The bridge, which connects Madawaska, Maine to Edmundston, New Brunswick in Canada, was considered to be in poor condition in October 2017. As a result, the bridge has had a five ton weight limit for nearly two years.
Sen. Susan Collins announced the grant on Monday, July 22, saying that during a recent visit to Aroostook County, she noticed how serious the situation is regarding bridge accessibility.
Collins said Twin Rivers Paper Company (the biggest employer in northern Maine) relies on the bridge -- but since 2017, it has had to reroute large trucks through Van Buren, which has added up to 75 miles, almost two hours of round-trip travel time, and millions of dollars of transportation costs.
"Madawaska residents and businesses are already contending with the severe consequences of this deteriorating structure," Sen. Collins said in a press release statement. "Improving the safety, efficiency, and reliability of transportation infrastructure throughout Maine is one of my top priorities, and I am pleased that this funding will allow this vital replacement project to move forward."
MaineDOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note also released a prepared statement about the grant on Monday, saying he is grateful to Sen. Collins for helping to secure the bridge replacement.
"This award represents a significant leap forward in our work to build a new, more-modern link between Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick," said Van Note. "We look forward to continuing to partner with federal officials from both the U.S. and Canada as we work to make sure people and goods can move quickly and safely between these two border communities."
MaineDOT announced that all lanes of the bridge will be closed from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. from July 22-27 and July 29-30, so an engineering firm can do a safety inspection.
The total cost to replace Madawaska International Bridge is expected to be about $73.5 million. The remaining funding will come from MaineDOT and the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.