The historic Lane's Island Bridge
on Vinalhaven serves as a scenic gateway to the 45-acre Lane's Island Preserve, whose rolling meadows and rocky headlands with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding islands make it one of the most popular and beloved places to visit for island residents and visitors alike.
We now have an opportunity to help the Town of Vinalhaven preserve the scenic character of this iconic bridge, by raising $8,000 to help pay for appropriate railings along the bridge approaches that are in keeping with the existing bridge's appearance. A group of us who live on the island have taken the initiative to raise the needed funds through this GoFundMe effort.
But we need to act very quickly. We only have until February 5th to raise $8,000, before the decision is finalized by the State and Town to trim costs and install unattractive interstate highway railings instead.
Won't you join us by making a contribution to this project today?
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THIS IMPORTANT EFFORT!
￼Why Is This Bridge Significant to Vinalhaven?
The history of the Lanes Island Bridge spans the history of Vinalhaven, from the island’s first settlers to the fishing and granite industries, to the beginnings of the tourist industry and the birth of the land conservation movement in the community. Built in the 1840s the bridge is, and has been, the gateway to industry and recreation. Its story is the story of Vinalhaven. Preserving the character and appearance of this Bridge has been strongly voiced by island residents, visitors, abutters, historic preservation organizations, and even by the State of Maine itself in its 1992 Statewide Scenic Inventory Report.￼What Is the Current Status of the Bridge?
First constructed in the 1840s, the Lane's Island Bridge is in need of structural repair and upgrading to ensure safety and longer life. In addition, the existing cable safety railings along the bridge approaches have failed, and must be replaced. Over the past two years the Maine DOT has been working with the Town and community to develop a sensible restoration plan. After receiving input from dozens of Vinalhaven residents concerned about retaining the historic and scenic character of the existing bridge, the MDOT team developed a design that addresses most of the community's concerns.
However, there is one remaining element that requires our attention and assistance: the approach railings.
The bridge is the responsibility of the State of Maine, and so the State is prepared to pay for basic repairs and stabilization. Their budget estimate is $255,000. While the MDOT's proposed plan for the Lane's Island Bridge retains the historic central bridge structure and curved approaches (shown below), and includes stabilizing the existing granite piers, we have a significant concern with their proposed use of cheaper metal highway guardrails to replace cable railings on the approaches, instead of a less-visually-intrusive box railing.
￼What Is the Maine DOT Planning to Do?
Because of the curves in the bridge approaches, traditional cable railings cannot be tensioned properly to meet current safety standards, and thus are not a viable option. The MDOT has instead proposed installing solid "W" steel highway railings on the approaches to the bridge, similar to what is typically used on I-95 exit ramps, and was used on the new Pulpit Harbor bridge on North Haven (shown in the photo below). The MDOT admits that this railing design is not in keeping with the rest of the Lane's Island Bridge's appearance, and would not match the existing bridge span's rectangular railing (the light green part of the existing bridge), but the "W" beam is the cheapest alternative.
￼ What Are the Railing Alternatives?
The MDOT showed three alternative railings at a December public meeting on Vinalhaven, where audience members expressed a strong preference for a less-visible 6"x6" Box railing (example shown below), versus the proposed 12-inch “W” steel highway railing (bottom photo). Concerns about the "W" highway rail also included potential excessive snow buildup in the winter, compared to the more open design of the Box rail system. (A third alternative, a timber railing, is significantly more expensive and maintenance-intensive.)
The box rail option would require 50% cost sharing by the Town for the slightly higher cost - MDOT has confirmed that selecting this option would cost the Town only $8,000, while the State will pay for all of the remaining aspects of the project. So Why Are We Raising Funds?
In January, the VH Select Board rejected citizen requests to select the lower-visual-impact Box railing instead of the “W” highway railing proposed by the MDOT. Facing tight budgets and multiple capital projects, they were unwilling to commit any Town funds to pay for the estimated $8,000 additional cost of a Box railing.
However, the Board did agree to give us until February 5th to raise funds privately through GoFundMe to help the Town pay for the more attractive option.
When the goal is achieved, the fundraising effort will end, and the funds will be withdrawn and paid to the Town of Vinalhaven to help the Town pay for their share of the railing costs. Who Is Leading this Effort?
The organizers of this fundraising effort, George Kendrick and Dinah Moyer, are Vinalhaven year-round residents as well as abutters to the project. Both have been involved in the bridge project planning and design discussions with the Town and the State over the past two years, along with other neighbors and islanders. How Do I Know That My Money Will Actually Be Used For This Project?
GoFundMe was created to ensure a secure, effective way for community groups to fund a larger project like this one. GoFundMe has safeguards in place to guarantee that the money will ONLY be used for its intended purpose. George Kendrick and Dinah Moyer will be jointly responsible for withdrawing funds and making a lump-sum payment directly to the Town of Vinalhaven, solely for the purpose of helping the Town pay for the railing project. What is the Total Fundraising Goal?
Because credit card donations to GoFundMe each incur a 2.9% credit card processing charge to the fundraiser from Visa and Mastercard, the total goal will be $8,240 to cover those charges and provide the Town with a check for $8,000. What If the Goal is Not Reached?
If we are unable to reach our goal and no additional funds become available from the Town, the money will be returned to each individual donor. Where Can I Get More Information?
A community website for the project is here:https://lanesislandbridge.org/home
A public Facebook group discussing the project is here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/786296594860932/
The Town of Vinalhaven also posts public information here:https://www.townofvinalhaven.org/capital-projects/pages/lanes-island-bridge