December 18, 2013

Weight limit on Benton bridge could slow fire response

Shortest path to section of Bog Road will increase from seven miles to 21 miles for Fairfield Fire Department.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

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According to a recent report from the state transportation department, 288 of the state’s 2,722 bridges are at risk of being posted with a weight restriction or closure within 10 years, unless repairs or replacements occur first. At least 69 of those bridges already have weight restrictions.

In regularly published bridge maintenance reports, each bridge in Maine is rated good, fair or poor depending on the condition of various features, including the structure of the bridge, its deck and the underlying substructure.

According to a July bridge maintenance report, the 66-foot long bridge, built in 1956, was last inspected on Aug. 23, 2012.

At the time, the East Benton Bridge’s substructure and superstructure were both rated a 5, or fair. The deck condition was rated a 6, satisfactory, and the channel condition was rated 7, or good.

If any component of the bridge gets a five or a six, the bridge is considered to be in at least fair condition. Scores of four or below can merit a rating of poor.

A bridge in fair condition is considered to have a sound structure, but may have some minor section loss, cracking, or other forms of deterioration.

Hunt said the state department has told him the bridge is scheduled to be repaired and widened sometime in 2014. Because the detour is so lengthy, traffic will be handled during the work period with the use of a temporary stoplight, he said.

Ted Talbot, the public information officer for the Maine Department of Transportation, did not return calls seeking comment.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 Twitter: @hh_matt
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