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Board supports state project to remove Haverill Bridge
RUMFORD -- It's an aging bridge that once spanned water in the canal system with a less costly sloping road. The canal was realigned so it no longer flows under the bridge.
It's the Haverill Bridge, which provides access to the NewPage Inc. paper mill and to Brookfield Power from upper Congress Street behind Rite Aid.
On Thursday, the Board of Selectmen unanimously gave their approval (Selectman Jeremy Volkernick was absent) for a Maine Department of Transportation project to remove the bridge and replace it with a sloping road.
Ben Condon, MDOT project manager, said the state owns the 365-foot, concrete-and-steel-girder span, which was built in 1964. He said MDOT would like to remove the bridge because it would cost $3.5 to $4 million just to replace it, and then there is the longterm maintenance costs to consider.
"To save dollars both on the taxpayers side and the state's, we would like to discontinue the roadway on the bridge," he said.
Condon said NewPage is on board with MDOT taking the bridge out and constructing a road. During that time, the mill would close that entrance and allow Brookfield Power entrance through the backside of the mill.
"The bridge is owned by the Department of Transportation, but the road is a local road," said Condon. "Originally, we thought discontinuance was the best route, but if it's discontinued, then it reverts to the adjacent property owner, which is the town and Brookfield."
That means all sides would have to go through two more conveyances before the property could be turned over appropriately to NewPage.
"What I would like, if it's at all possible, is to partner with the department and NewPage and enter into a three-party agreement where NewPage will agree to take over ownership of the road once completed," said Condon, adding that that would prevent an after-the-fact conveyance process.
The agreement would also allow pedestrian access on the road using a sidewalk that will be built and lighted, and provide access for Brookfield to their property. Additionally, town property could still be accessed via the new road.
Condon said NewPage wants to take over ownership of the road as a private driveway into the mill's upper gate and plow and maintain it, but they would still allow pedestrian access.
"NewPage was very adamant that they didn't want to remove the pedestrian access," he said, adding that the road would be lighted and have a sidewalk on one side only.
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy suggested that by allowing continued pedestrian access, a chain-link fence should be erected on both sides of the road. She worried aloud that because it will be seen as a new attraction, skateboarders would attempt to use it.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that because the road is owned by the town, residents would have to vote to give it to the paper mill or to discontinue it as a town way. He said if selectmen couldn't get the article on the annual business meeting warrant in June, they would have to call a special town meeting.
Condon said construction would start in the spring of 2014 and the road would be closed to access during this time.
When asked about the grade, he said it would be 9 percent from one side and 8 percent on the other.