Inspectors have uncovered a significant amount of steel deterioration on the aging international bridge between Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick; therefore, officials have been forced to place weight limits that prevent most commercial vehicles from crossing the bridge.
“During a recent inspection of the bridge, inspectors found significantly more steel deterioration on the floor beams and stringers than expected,” according to a press release issued around noon Thursday by Maine Department of Transportation spokesperson Ted Talbot.
For safety reasons, both sides of the bridge have imposed weight restrictions in order to preserve the integrity of the bridge. The weight limit has been set at 5 tons.
Talbot explained, “The new weight limit ensures that the bridge remains safe for passenger vehicles but restricts all commercial vehicles over five tons, including tractor trailers, box trucks, buses and fire trucks.”
Commercial vehicles over 5 tons will have to take a lengthy detour through one of the closest border crossings in either Fort Kent, 20 miles away or Van Buren, 25 miles away, according to Fiddlehead Focus.
The MDOT and New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure are devising a plan to complete temporary repairs to the bridge as soon as possible. Once the temporary repairs are complete, engineers will “re-evaluate the situation.”
“However, weight restrictions of some magnitude will remain in effect until a replacement bridge is complete,” Talbot said in the statement. No timeline was given for said repairs, or how long the bridge would require weight constrictions.
This bridge was built in 1921 and is due for repairs, according to the Maine DOT. Bridges are ideally to be repaired every 70 years, so this bridge is well overdue to be replaced.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the bridge is the 15th busiest border crossing along the U.S.-Canada.
Madawaska-Edmundston Bridge Weight Limit to be Lowered https://t.co/YL2xiuV6fy
— MaineDOT (@MaineDOT1) October 26, 2017
Soucy said he is looking into whether any exceptions could be made in an emergency, although he is unsure if that will be allowed.