Rawson Avenue bridge near end of useful life

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 12, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The bridge on Rawson Avenue is near the end of its useful life, and is posted with a 5 ton limit.

CAMDEN — The Rawson Avenue Bridge over the Megunticook River in Camden is near the end of its useful life, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

Information about the bridge came to light during the Sept. 5 Select Board meeting, where numerous residents from Rawson Avenue and Washington Street spoke about excavation and drilling noise, dust and the staging of equipment at Tannery Park during water main replacement work this summer.

Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell said Sept. 11 that while DOT estimates the bridge has another two years of operation, it is not prioritizing replacement of the bridge. Caler-Bell said she and Public Works Director Rick Seibel met with MDOT representatives in July to discuss the bridge.The DOT recommendation is to dead-end Rawson Avenue from both sides, and discontinue vehicle traffic over the bridge.

Currently, the bridge is posted with a limit of 5 tons. A fuel truck full of propane or oil weighs 17 tons. Howard Holmes of PG Willey & Co. in Camden said the company's fuel trucks drive onto Rawson Avenue from either side, and do not cross the bridge. Camden Fire Chief Chris Farley said all but one of the town's fire trucks weigh upward of 20 tons, including water and equipment.

Caler-Bell said the town of Camden will explore options, such as working with DOT to see if there are less costly alternatives to keep the road open, such as replacing the bridge with a box culvert, as well as cost-sharing. DOT estimates replacement of the bridge will cost around $1 million.

The town has funds in the current municipal budget for an engineering study to develop options and costs, according to Caler-Bell. The target would be to complete the engineering study within the next six months, prior to the preparation of the 2018-19 town budget, she said.

While any decision to replace the bridge on Rawson Avenue would be determined by a town vote, Caler-Bell would like to see a survey done to gauge the opinions of residents who live on the avenue.

Water main work on Rawson Avenue and Ames Terrace is nearly completed, except for paving. The entire project involved replacing 1,700 feet of water main with 8-inch-diameter ductile iron pipe in order to help improve flows to this area of the water system, according to the Maine Water website.

On Sept. 5, Rawson Avenue and Washington Street residents talked about noisy construction beginning at 6 a.m. and continuing throughout the day, as well as dust and dirt from the construction covering vehicles and porches. The speakers noted that the start of construction had changed to 7 to 7:30 a.m. just that week.

Residents said they had to keep windows closed during the summer, despite the heat. One resident spoke about how her child's sleep was disrupted in the weeks leading up to starting preschool, and another spoke about a summer guest who cut their stay short because of the noise.

The staging of construction equipment on the Washington Street property, recently renamed Tannery Park, was another concern. Residents spoke about the use of the property for six months while the Bakery Bridge on Washington Street was reconstructed. They asked the Select Board and town manager to respect the longtime community and town efforts to develop Tannery Park, by finding other town-owned land to stage future construction projects.

At the meeting, Caler-Bell said she and others had spoken with Maine Water representatives about construction noise starting at 6 a.m., and the company agreed to begin work no earlier than 7 a.m. Select Board Chairman John French apologized to residents for the lack of communication regarding when the water main work would begin. Board member Alison McKellar noted that the Rawson Avenue residents were subjected to more than their share of construction staging, due to the use of the former tannery property during the Bakery Bridge construction. Board members agreed to look for other areas to stage construction projects.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Dave Getchell | Sep 13, 2017 11:00

I live on Rawson, too, and have experienced muddy water in my tap a number of times during current phase of construction. My property is at the end away from current work, but there's lots of mysterious paint marks on pavement out front of the house....so it looks like there's going to be more dust and noise before they're finished. It's high time this work got addressed, we'll just have to muddle thru it all. (Any chance there might be a sidewalk involved in this work??) As for the Rawson Ave bridge, I've seen the river almost up to flowing over the roadway several times over the years...seems like way past time for that job to be done!

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Sep 12, 2017 20:53

Really folks, you know when there is excavation and replacement work going on there is going to be dust and noise.  Get over it and say thanks for replacing the old lines before one burst in your home.  And yes I live on Rawson Avenue too.

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