Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Kennebec Bridge

This bridge, built in 1931 by the American Bridge Company and slated for replacement in 2013, was described in the Federal Infrastructure Projects web site as noted below.

The project replaces an 80 year-old moveable span truss bridge at the end of its service life with a high level, fixed bridge over the Kennebec River on State Route 197 between Richmond and Dresden, located upstream from the existing bridge.


The Maine Kennebec Bridge is an important crossing on the Kennebec River as it connects the communities and links Dresden and points east with Interstate 295. This structurally deficient structure contains five fracture critical spans. The existing bridge has one movable section (swing span) that allows larger vessels to pass the navigable portion of the Kennebec River.

Historic Fort Richmond occupied the Richmond side of the Kennebec near  the bridge. Built around 1720, no trace of the actual fort was visible for years.  A large boulder with a plaque is all that signifies the location.  Before the construction of the new bridge, extensive archaeological work was done to preserve artifacts and obtain one last assessment of the site. The plaque is in the small park at the Richmond end of the bridge.  The fort had an impact on the development of Swan Island in the 18th century.

New Kennebec Bridge (2016)

New Kennebec Bridge (2016)

Fort Pownal Memorial (2016)

Fort Pownal Memorial (2016)

Navigability on this section of the Kennebec River is extremely important, especially for the U.S. Coast Guard which operates two vessels for ice breaking and aids to navigation. These vessels are utilized during most winters to prevent ice jams that can cause flooding in many upstream areas.

At the request of the U.S. Coast Guard, the new bridge will provide sufficient vertical clearance to eliminate the need for a movable span, and will provide reliable access and regional mobility for both highway and marine traffic. In addition, the current bridge is only 20 feet wide, and often acts as a single lane bridge when logging and other large trucks cross. The new structure will provide two travel lanes plus shoulders to safely accommodate trucks, bicycles and pedestrians.

 

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Additional Resources

Federal Infrastructure Projects: Kennebec BridgeReplacement. http://permits.performance.gov/projects/16071/details (accessed March 25, 2013)

Maine. Department of Transportation. “Federal Project: Bidding Instructions.” Augusta, Me. Updated 10/04/12. p. 30. http://www.maine.gov/mdot/contractors/projects/2013/012674.00-richmond-dresden/bp012674.00.pdf (accessed March 10, 2014)

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