Conceptualizing the Causeway

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

In this computer-generated photo, people can get a basic idea of how the Causeway will look when the Bay of Naples Bridge project is completed. (Image courtesy of Bob Neault)

NAPLES — How can a photo be taken of something that hasn’t been built yet?

It might seem like a question for Stephen Hawking, the British physicist who examines the plausibility of time travel theories.

Actually, it is a question Naples residents and public officials have been pondering: How will the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway look when the construction project is finished?

With a computer software program and some aerial photographs of the Causeway, it was possible to alter real photos and present an image of how the new roadway, bridge and green space will appear in a few years.

Bob Neault, Causeway Renovation Committee (CRC) president, created an image of how the Causeway could look when the project is completed in 2013. The image has the appearance of a photo, and reveals the area from the bridge’s east approach to the Causeway parking spaces immediately west of the Songo River Queen II dock.

That image was ready to be released to the public in late November. However, first the computer-enhanced photo made its debut on Facebook — where it received a stream of comments and questions. From there, the picture evolved as Neault considered landscaping and placement of the driveways that would connect properties to Route 302.

This image of a soon-to-come Causeway will provide a visual for future fundraising. With a fundraising consultant at the helm, the CRC members will solicit donations — and having an image for people to view will be helpful, Neault said.

According to Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine, one particular fundraising approach has been put on hold until the springtime.

One of the ways the town plans to raise money for its portion of the Bay of Naples Bridge project is to set up interviews with philanthropic residents and business owners. However, after making initial phone calls, it was discovered that most of those potential financial supporters were out-of-state for the winter, he said during a Jan. 10 Naples Board of Selectmen meeting.

One of the details omitted from the Causeway image is green guard railings. Goodine said the computer software program Neault used was unable to change the color from white to green.

So, people have carte blanche to imagine green guard railings in the picture.

Green is the preferred color for the roadside safety structures, Neault said during a Jan. 5 construction meeting conducted by the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT).

“We want it to match” the recently installed light poles and pedestrian hand railing on the boardwalk overlooking Long Lake, he said.

Wyman & Simpson Inc., Engineer Kim Suhr agreed. “I think it makes sense for it to be green,” Suhr said.

The guard railing will likely get its custom-colored paint job at the company that manufactured the galvanized steel rails and light poles, Suhr said during the January meeting.

For those accustomed to reading blue prints, a photograph might not be necessary to know what the bridge will look like in the future.

According to MDOT Resident Engineer Craig Hurd, there will be a noticeable change in the roadscape along Route 302 when everything is said and done.

The new bridge will be “pretty close” to parallel to the old bridge, he said.

“There is a slight skew. It (the new bridge approach) will be closer to the old bridge at the Tony’s (Foodland) end. When you get across the bridge, you will be 10 feet further to the north,” Hurd said.

The new road will shift over approximately 30 feet from where the existing road is. In addition, vehicles will be traveling on a road that is “eight to ten feet higher than it is now,” he said.

Presently, there are rows of rebar sticking out from both abutments, and tipping towards one another over the channel that connects Brandy Pond to Long Lake. That rebar will be the beginning of the arch, Hurd said.

The concrete placement of the arch is not going to be done for a few more months, he said.

“Right now, they are building the form work. They have got to build a temporary bridge to support the arch when they place it,” Hurd said.

The contractor has a deadline of May 15 for the new arch bridge to be ready for traffic, Hurd said. The next step will be to dismantle the swing bridge, which ceased to operate for boat traffic in September 2011. Wyman & Simpson is the general contractor for the state projects to replace the town’s aging swing bridge.

The current cost of the project is running between $8.9 and $9.1 million, he said. The town will foot $405,000 of that expense.

The photograph of the Bay of Naples Bridge includes some details that will be nailed down as the project gets closer to completion. One of those details is a green space set up on the Brandy Pond side. It is on the opposite side.

According to Hurd, “We know where it (the amphitheater) is going to be. We don’t know what we going to do for it.”

“How much we will build is the question,” he said.

One feature on the Causeway that seems set in stone: The gray concrete on the retaining walls will be stained the color of wood. In summer 2010, the surface of the concrete boardwalk was stained so it would appear like a wooden walkway.

This summer, the retaining walls will be stained to match the boardwalks, according to Hurd.

Those sizeable structures on the Causeway — the retaining walls — can be used to gauge the future roadway, which will be about 10 feet taller than the pavement upon which traffic is currently traveling.

“That work will be finished this summer. They have to place finish grade around it because you don’t want to stain it if it’s going to be buried. That would be a waste of money,” he said.

“Plus, you need warmer weather to stain the concrete,” Hurd said.

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