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10 Most Traveled Bridges in Maine In Desperately Poor Condition

Thousands of motorists pass Maine’s most heavily trafficked, dilapidated bridges every day. One of them became 90 in 2023, while two of them are older than 60. Maine was ranked fifth in the nation in 2022 for having the worst bridges. The majority of those bridges are located in Cumberland County, which is home to Portland, the state’s largest city.

How Many of Maine’s Bridges Are in Poor Condition?

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association reports that 392 of Maine’s 2,521 bridges require maintenance. Although the state only has $90 million so far, Bipartisan Infrastructure’s Bridge Formula Funds for Main total $225 million. Plus, $412,000 has already been set aside for a single bridge.

The quantity of structurally defective bridges added to the list since 2019 is possibly more alarming. Three years prior, 314 bridges required maintenance. Five require a complete replacement, but the most only need deck replacements or rehabilitation. Examine the bridges in Maine that require repair more closely.

What Makes a Bridge Structurally Unsound?

The Department of Transportation uses a scale ranging from 1 to 10 to grade several elements of bridges. A zero denotes “failure,” whereas a nine is equivalent to “excellent.” Expert inspectors examine:

Roadway alignment
Deck
Superstructure (girders, trusses, etc.)
Substructure (Piers, abutments, etc.)
Culvert
Railings and guardrails
Channel protection
Transitions

Experts determine the final result after assigning a score to each component. This establishes the course of action, if any.

0 to 3: Rebuild or replace
4. Rehabilitating
5 and 6: Upkeep
7 to 9: Conservation and prophylactic upkeep

For a bridge to handle the weight and vibrations of the traffic that uses it, every part of the bridge needs to be in good condition. It is disconcerting to see evidence of rust, fractures, and disintegrating pavement.

Are These Bridges in Maine Still Safe to Cross?

While driving across a structurally unsafe bridge isn’t always dangerous, it does indicate that repairs or enhancements need to be undertaken. If changes aren’t made, authorities may have to impose weight restrictions on vehicles using a bridge, close it, and create detours.

Detours are problematic, particularly for those who commute. It’s not always feasible to take detours that don’t lengthen the journey. Locals and drivers become irritated with longer trips and higher traffic in areas not used by commuters. Because they’re not used to seeing so many cars, Maine’s wildlife is also damaged if traffic is rerouted onto rural roads. The intention is to minimize the length of closures.

Where Are Maine’s Most Traveled, Structurally Deficient Bridges?

The most populated county in Maine, Cumberland County, is home to five of the state’s dilapidated bridges. In second place with two bridges is Penobscot County. Examine the various bridges and how many vehicles cross them each day to see how they rank. Take note that some of the ten bridges are paired with one another because of how close they are to one another.

1 and 2: 1-295 North and South over Route 88

The I-295 North and South overpasses are the bridges on this list with the most daily traffic. These sections span Route 88 in Yarmouth and are the most dilapidated bridges in Maine. On a daily average, there are 27,320 vehicles traveling north and 27,080 vehicles traveling south.

The concrete deck of the three-span steel girder bridge, which was constructed in 1959, has cracks in both the deck and the columns. Furthermore, there is some exposed rebar, and rust on beams and flanges is a problem. All of the bearings were rated poorly and had no paint left on them. Additionally, the substructure is in bad shape.

The bridges, which are 279 feet long, will need to be completely replaced. The Department of Transportation in Maine plans to add safer junctions for bikes and pedestrians at the same time. December 12, 2025, was the date of completion that the contractor set.

3: I-95 over Route 15 (Broadway)

When the I-95 crossed Broadway in Bangor, the bridge’s rusting steel and collapsing concrete caused inspections to fail. Since it was built in 1960, the bridge has seen a lot of traffic—up to 25,340 vehicles per day at the moment. A $20 million budget is anticipated to be paid for by a federal grant.

With the goal of completing a bigger, higher bridge by November 2024, the bridge project went out to bid in 2023. It is hoped that bridge closures will only occur at night.

4 and 5: I-95 South and North over Stillwater Avenue

Two bridges across the I-95 in Bangor were cited by inspectors for flaws. Given how hard the winters are in this city, it is not surprising that three of the bridges rust. During winter storms, icy roads need to be sanded and salted to avoid car accidents on the I-95.

This time, the Stillwater Avenue bridges to the north and south require maintenance. Repairing these bridges is a top priority because they carry a lot of traffic to the nearby malls and shopping centers. There are 25,150 vehicles on the south bridge and 25,120 on the north bridge per day.

6 and 8: I-295 North over Route US 1 North and South

There were previously two bridges in Yarmouth on this list. The I-295 overpasses that cross Route 88 as well as the overpasses that span Route 1 failed. The northbound and southbound bridges were constructed in 1959; the steel girders have rust spots, and the abutments have hairline fractures and exposed rebar.

The foundation is in bad shape, so plans are underway to build new bridges. Yarmouth experiences increased traffic during the summer months because of its closeness to Portland, Mackworth Island, and Freeport’s shopping. Traffic is expected to be 23,700 southbound and 24,130 northbound. Improvements to intersections are being planned in addition to the new bridges to increase safety for bicycles and pedestrians.

7: Congress Street over Stroudwater River

Every day, about 24,013 cars cross the Congress Street/Stroudwater River Bridge. Trucks make about 5% of the traffic in this busy part of Portland. The substructure failed inspections, although the deck and superstructure were rated as “fair.” Additionally, damage to the embankments was noted by inspectors.

In that part, Congress Street also functions as Routes 9 and 22. In addition, the Portland International Jetport is close by, making this a busy area for aviation travel.

9: Main Street over the Auburn Riverwalk

19,242 cars cross Auburn’s Main Street bridge over a pedestrian walkway per day, with trucks accounting for 9% of the total traffic. The bridge’s deck and superstructure were found to have structural flaws during an examination conducted in November 2022.

The Auburn Riverwalk, which links Auburn and Lewiston, includes the pedestrian walkway. The 1.6-mile walking path crosses the river via a trestle bridge. Repairs are a top priority because anything falling from the bridge has the potential to hurt pedestrians.

10: Main Street/Main Railroad and Back River Creek Marsh

A significant portion of Bath Iron Works workers that commute from Woolwich to Bath use the Station 46 Bridge. A smaller bridge spans the marshy area of Back River Creek. An estimated 18,940 vehicles drive through the area each day. Inspections revealed that it is in terrible condition and needs to be replaced. Not surprisingly, this is the oldest bridge on the list of ten.

Rust had deteriorated the steel bracings and piles supporting the bridge, and several of them were missing. Steel rebar was visible and there were cracks in the concrete decking and supports. In order to prevent a 32-mile detour, work on building a temporary bridge began in 2022.

Overview of Structurally Unsound Maine Bridges

Bridge Location Type of Bridge County Year Built Daily Crossing
I-295 North/Rt. 88 Urban Interstate Cumberland 1959 27,320
I-295 South/Rt. 88 Urban Interstate Cumberland 1959 27,080
I-95/Rt. 15 (Broadway) Urban Interstate Penobscot 1960 25,340
I-95 South/Stillwater Urban Interstate Penobscot 1960 25,150
I-95 South/Stillwater Urban Interstate Penobscot 1960 25,120
I-295 North/ Route US 1 North and South Urban Interstate Cumberland 1959 24,130
Congress St./Stroudwater River Urban Arterial Cumberland 1989 24,013
I-295 South/ Route US 1 North and South Urban Interstate Cumberland 1959 23,700
Main Street/Pedestrian Walkway Urban Arterial Androscoggin 1975 19,242
Main Street/Maine RR and a Marsh Rural Arterial Sagadahoc 1933 18,940