Bridge high for ice-breakers


DEAR SUN SPOTS: On three separate occasions I spoke with three different groups of friends. Not one person in the three groups could come up with an acceptable explanation for the question below. Interesting to note each group agreed Sun Spots would be able to satisfy my curiosity.

Here is the issue: Recently while traveling from Lewiston to Boothbay on Route 197 I passed through Richmond and crossed the Kennebec River going to Dresden Mills. Remember the old iron drawbridge? Well, it will very soon become a memory of long-ago times!

Next to the old iron bridge the superstructure of a new bridge is under construction. People in the group who have seen this massive structure think it must be at least 100 feet high.

Most people think it was obvious the height is to allow large vessels to navigate the Kennebec up toward Augusta.

My unanswered question is, what will these large vessels do when they reach the ground level bridge between Gardiner and Randolph? Or is there another sound reason why this massive bridge should be 100 feet high? As usual I am in awe of your capabilities. — Gene Gilbert, [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots went right to the top for an answer. John E. Buxton, chief engineer for bridge maintenance at the Maine Department of Transportation, wrote that:

“The new Richmond-Dresden Bridge provides for the same vertical navigational clearance (high tide to bottom of bridge) as the Sagadahoc Bridge between the towns of Bath-Woolwich, which is 75 feet. Given the depth of the superstructure, the road surface is somewhere around 85 feet from the high-tide level.

“The biggest reason why this navigational clearance is needed is for the critical function of ice breaking up to Gardiner. The bridge between Gardiner and Randolph has about a 40-foot vertical navigational clearance, but the river becomes very shallow just upriver of the bridge.

“Ice is an extremely dangerous and destructive force. We had great concern this past winter since the river iced over early and froze fairly deep. Even though it was a cold winter, the ice lost a lot of its strength through sublimation and a fairly mild and dry spring.”

DEAR SUN SPOTS: First, I must tell you that I am an avid Sun Spots’ reader.

For young Garrett looking for Ford Model A pickup parts. I recently received a brochure of an upcoming Charles Talbot Auction at 9 a.m. Oct. 11 that features two barns of Model T and Model A parts/cars and even a Model A pickup.

The address is 6 Old State Road, Route 140 Hartford. Auction listings and pictures can be found on Good luck, Garrett. — D.W., Lewiston

ANSWER: Even if Garrett can’t afford to bid, the auction could be a good opportunity to meet other Model A aficionados who might be able to help him. Thank you for writing so promptly!

For Garrett, when typing in the website address, note the double-a’s in the middle.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Where does the time go? It is time again for the Sumner Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary to hold its biannual ticket auction, and we are once again looking for donations from surrounding businesses and/or individuals to make this a success.

Donations such as store items, gift cards, hand-crafted items and such are what we are looking for. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated.

Sumner, Buckfield, Hartford, Turner, Rumford and surrounding towns, please contact me for more information and/or pickup.

Lewiston, Auburn, Gray, New Gloucester, Poland and surrounding towns, please contact Charlotte Blier at 207-784-8941 for more information and/or pickup.

All who read this are invited to donate and attend this wonderful event, which will be held Oct. 18 at the Buckfield High School in Buckfield. The doors open for looking at 11 a.m.; the auction starts at 1 a.m.

This year the auxiliary is working to purchase a self-contained breathing apparatus fill station for our local volunteer fire department. Many thanks of appreciation in advance to everyone. — Wilda Dunham, vice president, 207-388-2981, [email protected]

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]