Scribner Mills bridge could face closure

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

HARRISON — Restoration and plenty of hard work breathed new life into Scribners Mills — the site of the annual Back to the Past days.

The same, however, may not hold true for the bridge that spans Crooked River and leads to the old homestead.

The future of the Scribner Mills Bridge is in doubt.

“Temporary fixes have been done over time, but the issue is fast approaching what to do long-term,” Harrison Town Manager Bud Finch told selectmen last Thursday night. “The state has no interest in providing funding assistance as the bridge does not meet the traffic count utilized in their funding formula.”

Harrison officials have had discussions in recent years with neighboring Otisfield, but there is “little to no desire by Otisfield to assist in funding the level of improvements necessary to meet the long-term structural needs any more than we in Harrison have,” Finch noted.

“We are now approaching the reality of finding funds and upgrading the bridge or shutting it down,” he added. “The bridge is old and aged to a point where it is above our ability to provide plans and cost estimates to upgrade the bridge. I expect the cost of design and work would be far higher than the townspeople would care to spend for the same reason the state doesn’t.”

Finch described Scribners Mills Bridge as a “limited use bridge” and without repairs in the near future, the town would likely barricade it for safety reasons.

Another trouble spot is the Thomas Bridge/Culvert on Lewis Road. Local officials heard about deficiencies through the state’s bridge review report.

Finch said there is no “immediate threat,” but unless work is done soon, it could become an expensive fix.

“Yes, I know a lot of people probably do not even recognize it as a bridge, but it does fall under the guidelines of monitoring by the state. I do believe repairing or replacement is something the (Harrison) Public Works crew can accomplish when it becomes a necessity,” Finch said. “It could be a bit more expensive than one would expect. We will analyze the options and make it part of the Capital Roads long-term plan.”

Finch also briefed selectmen regarding town dams.

The Crystal Lake Dam is operated and maintained jointly by the town and Camp Pinecliffe for the purpose of controlling the depth of Crystal Lake through the changing seasons.

“For the most part, this is going well and should be sufficient into the future as long as it is within the controlled depths that prevent washout around the dam,” Finch said.

Below the Crystal Lake Dam is what is known as Mill Pond Dam. This dam had a fairly significant amount of money raised and invested into it as part of the creation of the Mill Pond Park a few years back. The intent of the renovations was to recreate the pond between the dam and the upper dam for historical reasons and the park.

“Unfortunately, over time, the fix has worn and the water from time to time will drain out and interfere with the flow of water and the movement of wildlife that naturally flows when the dam is working properly,” Finch reported. “This is something that will require a plan for eliminating the problem, which will be somewhere between overhauling the problems with the dam to removing it.”

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