Peru-Mexico bridge dedication set for Friday

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The opening of the $11.1 million Peru-Mexico bridge is scheduled for Friday. It will be dedicated to Pfc. Buddy W. McLain of Mexico, who died Nov. 29, 2010, while serving in Afghanistan. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

The dedication plaque at the new Pfc. Buddy Wendell McLain Memorial Bridge, connecting Mexico and Peru.

PERU — A ceremony to honor a fallen soldier from Mexico is scheduled for Friday at the new Peru-Mexico bridge, which will be dedicated to the memory of Pfc. Buddy W. McLain.

The Pfc. Buddy Wendell McLain Memorial Bridge, which spans the Androscoggin River, will serve as tribute to the cavalry scout who died Nov. 29, 2010, while serving in Afghanistan.

A member of the 101st Airborne Division, McLain died of wounds suffered in an attack during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 24 years old and left behind a wife, Chelsea, and a son, Owen.

Meg Lane, director of creative services for the Maine Department of Transportation, said the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The bridge will open to the public about two hours later.

“I can’t remember the last time we were doing both an opening and a bridge dedication,” Lane said. “That’s a little unusual for us. We are certainly trying to make this a memorable event for Buddy’s son.”

Lane said a color guard will be there, accompanied by pipe and drum corps. There will also be a junior pipe and drum corps. Owen McLain’s classmates are expected to attend.

“We wanted to have something there the kids would probably find interesting, seeing other kids performing this music in period dress,” Lane said.

She said Owen McLain will unveil the plaque.

“After he does that, we will cut the ribbon,” Lane said. “While we’re doing the ribbon, Owen will get in the police cruiser (with Mexico police Chief Roy Hodsdon) and be the first one to cross the bridge.”

MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt will serve as master of ceremonies.

State Rep. Richard Pickett, R-Dixfield, who sponsored the bill to name the bridge and has been involved in planning the event, is expected to speak, as is Buddy McLain’s widow, Chelsea.

Brig. Gen. Dwaine Drummond is also scheduled to speak about McLain’s military service, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin will say a few words.

During the ceremony, Lane said, there will be a helicopter flyover, coordinated by Col. Mark Sullivan of the U.S. Army Aviation Support Facility in Bangor.

According to MDOT, the $11.1 million structure is a 600-foot, three-span bridge located downstream from the existing, 1930 structure. It utilizes variable-depth steel girders, a concrete deck and concrete foundation systems.

The project also required upgrading more than 2,000 feet of roadway along North Main Street and U.S. Route 2, including replacing a Maine Central Railroad crossing.

There is also a new traffic light at the intersection of the bridge and Route 2.

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