CANTON – The steel-trussed bridge spanning the Androscoggin River in the hamlet of Gilbertville will soon join many other bridges of the same architectural style in the steel scrap heap.

Work began about a month ago on the multimillion-dollar replacement of the 450-foot bridge to move it 50 feet upstream for use as a temporary bridge while a modern steel and concrete bridge is built on the site.

Tim Duncan, superintendent of the project under way by Reed and Reed of Woolwich, said plans are to remove the old bridge from its site in mid-July. At that time, the crossing over the river will be closed for about five days. Traffic will be rerouted to Route 4 or Route 108.

Construction will continue through the winter, with a target date for completion of the new, 500-foot bridge set for August 2004.

The Gilbertville Bridge, like the now demolished Ridlonville Bridge in Mexico and the existing three-span bridge connecting Peru and Mexico, was built during the 1930s.

It served its purpose well, but as vehicles became wider and taller, steel bars often were hit and damaged.

That doesn’t happen with the modern structures – there are no overhead beams and supports.

Along with two wider lanes, an eight-foot sidewalk will also be built into the new bridge, allowing snowmobilers to cross the river at the site.

Once the new bridge is complete, the old bridge will be floated to shore, then chopped up, said Duncan. The new bridge will be three-span with two piers.

The current Gilbertville Bridge was built by the PGH-Des Moines Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., the same company that built many around the state in the 1930s.

It was named for Charles and Zimeri Gilbert, brothers who owned sawmills in that section of Canton in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


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