Red Iron Bridge removal postponed

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Sometimes, going straight to the horse’s mouth really pays off. This time it did!

Maine’s Commissioner of Transportation has agreed to postpone any action to remove the imperiled Red Iron Bridge, until spring, according to State Senator Dave Hastings (R-Fryeburg).

“The good news is the Red Iron Bridge is not coming out in November,” Sen. Hastings told The Bridgton News, Wednesday morning.

Approximately 100 townspeople turned out at a meeting with top Maine Department of Transportation officials last week to express their concerns about the state’s planned removal of the bridge that sits at the intersection of Harbor and McNeil Roads in North Fryeburg.

“I just got a call this morning from Commissioner Cole,” Sen. Hastings said, Wednesday morning. “The DOT has agreed to postpone the removal of the Red Iron Bridge, until spring. They’re willing to give us more time, to see if we can come up with some other solution.”

The MDOT rehabilitated the Charles River Bridge located about a mile away on Harbor Road and decided to remove the Red Iron Bridge, saying it was too costly to repair or replace.

Town Manager Sharon Jackson said she received a phone call Wednesday morning from the MDOT’s Bridge Program Manager, David Sherlock, informing her of three things.

“They have agreed to delay, until spring, the removal of the Red Iron Bridge,” said Jackson. “They are sending a team of inspectors to do an in-depth inspection, underwater, of the bridge with a dive team. And, they will re-send a letter to the town restating the options.”

“I’m very pleased that they’ve decided to postpone any action on the bridge until spring,” Jackson said of MDOT officials. “That way, the town has time to look at our options.”

Onus now on the town?

“They (the DOT) still feel the bridge needs to come out, but they will give the Town of Fryeburg time to explore other solutions,” Sen. Hastings stated Oct. 6. “They (the MDOT) don’t want to spend more money on the Red Iron Bridge, but they are willing to give us more time. They are willing to delay, or postpone, the removal of the bridge that was planned for November which is, obviously, good news!”

“I really think the fact that 100 townspeople came out and voiced their opinions at last week’s meeting — I’m sure that had an impact on the MDOT,” Hastings said further.

Asked what the next step will be, Sen. Hastings said, “I think the MDOT will write to the Fryeburg selectmen — that is the next step. And then, we’ll have to begin exploring options.”

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