Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge is fighting back!
MDOT has been determined to destroy our historic bridge and build a new concrete highway bridge in the heart of our community. They have done this with more than 50 other historic truss bridges. This is why Maine Preservation named our bridge to their 2017 Most Endangered List. After MDOT repeatedly refused to hire a an engineer experienced in rehabilitating historic bridges to offer an analysis of the cost and scope of work needed to rehab our bridge – ignoring a request to do so from the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation – we hired an experienced engineer to do it ourselves.
Unlike the analysis done by MDOT’s multi-national design/build firm that specializes in designing and building new bridges, our engineer found rehab to be a cost-effective option. We then hired a second experienced bridge rehab engineer to peer review our first engineer’s report – just to be sure. He agreed with the conclusions of our first engineer. Our two experienced bridge rehab engineers agree that MDOT’s engineers (who have to contract to design a new bridge) are wrong. Now that we have irrefutable evidence that rehab is a reasonable and cost-effective option. The 4(f) historic preservation review under the Federal Highway Act says that MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration must rehab the bridge if it is “prudent and feasible.” They have acknowledged that it is feasible, and plan to fight on “prudence” using outrageously inflated long-term maintenance costs as the basis of their claim. With our two engineer’s challenging those numbers, we have a good case for fighting this in court if the Federal Highway Administration pushes ahead with plans to demolish the bridge.
Between the engineers’ reports we commissioned and a great deal of evidence that this process has been intentionally biased toward new construction – which we acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request to MDOT – the likelihood of success in court is high.
It is also going to be expensive. While MDOT has spent more than $600,000 trying to ram a ugly concrete bridge into the heart of our community, we have fought back with small donations from residents who care about the character of our community. To date, we have raised and spent $20,000. What we have accomplished with this comparatively small amount is gratifying.
Now we need to raise more funds for the battle to come. Experienced 4 (f) and environmental attorneys are not inexpensive, but with them we can win this battle.
Please join us and donate what you can! Even small donations add up and make a difference. You can make a difference and do your part to help save the Frank J. Wood Bridge.
We also need you to share this link with all of your Facebook friends and email contacts! It will take many donations save our bridge. The identity of our community is at stake. Help keep Brunswick and Topsham from becoming just another place with a characterless concrete bridge.