Naples Bridge Update for March

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — March roared like a lion at the construction site of the Bay of Naples Bridge.

On Monday and Tuesday, the northeast gusts gained half the speed of a jaguar (36 mph) and downward spiraling temperatures felt like the cruel breath of an ice queen.

But, those adverse weather conditions did not put a stop to progress.

According the Maine Department of Transportation’s Resident Engineer Craig Hurd, “The wind might slow them down a little, but they work through it.”

The wind gusts would prevent the crane operator from moving items that have a large surface, and would catch the wind gusts like a sail, he said. However, that’s not on the work list.

“They are pretty lucky. They don’t need cranes for next few days,” he said.

Unlike the weather — which cannot be predicted weeks ahead of time — it is safe to say there will be lane closures and a slowdown for Causeway drivers from now until mid- to late May, according to Hurd. Those traffic delays began Monday. The current lane closure is occurring in front of Merced’s, where the fire suppression lines are being placed underground.

The lane closures will run Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., as subcontractor R.J. Grondin & Sons completes drainage and pipe installation, Hurd said. The location of the lane closure will vary according to where work is taking place, he said.

As the completion of the bridge nears it deadline, the far west end of the retaining wall has crept into the current roadway. However, there is still enough room for eastbound and westbound vehicles to drive on the roadway; and drivers should be cautious when passing through the construction zone, Hurd said.

The Town of Naples has planned a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the concrete arch bridge, which has a 90-foot-long span from abutment to abutment and measures 13 feet tall from the water.

The completion of the bridge in May 2012 does not mean Causeway construction will be over. The general contractor for this project, Wyman & Simpson, Inc., will have a two-week period to clear the space for boat traffic, but the demolition of the old bridge may take longer than that timeframe, according to Hurd.

Other details — such as a 15’x15’ scenic vista, an amphitheater seating up to 150 people, and green-space landscaping — will be finished by spring 2013.

One detail did attest to how cold it was during the early part of the week. It was so cold “icicles froze sideways” as the white caps cruised across Long Lake, splashing water onto the wooden railing that runs parallel to the retraining wall.

“Next year, icicles will look really nice on the green pedestrian hand railing,” Hurd said.

Another sign of spring’s indecisive mood in March — re-emerging of the hooded parkas and heavyweight coats which construction workers had abandoned during last week’s heat wave.

“Yeah, it took me quite a while to find my winter jacket, and it was definitely needed,” Hurd said.

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