In Harpswell, concern is growing over plans to repair a historic span.

HARPSWELL (AP) – A unique bridge that’s better known as a coastal landmark is also the subject of a local debate.

The state Department of Transportation wants to improve the 75-year-old Cobwork Bridge, known locally as the Cribstone Bridge.

Residents in this picturesque town are saying thanks, but no thanks.

The narrow, two-lane bridge is part of state Route 24 and connects Bailey Island with Orr’s Island and the mainland. The bridge is supported by granite blocks neatly crisscrossed on ledges and is believed to be the only span of its kind in the world.

State transportation officials say it’s time to improve the bridge to ensure the safety of motorists and its long-term stability.

Tom Doe, a project engineer in the MDOT’s Bridge Division, said the DOT hasn’t decided what it’s going to do.

“Whatever it is we decide to do, we’ll do it in the offseason,” Doe said. “The public concerns I’m sure will be preserving its historic nature and not doing the work during tourist season.”

Town Selectman Gordon Weil said, “The general reaction I’ve been getting is: Don’t touch my bridge. My sense is the people will be reluctant to see any changes.”

Weil said he’s been under the bridge many times in his boat and hasn’t noticed any shifting of the stones or structural problems that need to be fixed.

“This is a historic structure. The state needs to proceed with caution,” Weil said.

Local lobster dealer Bob Waddle agreed.

“I think the state will find a lot of opposition if they try to do anything to the cribstones because the bridge is so unique,” said Waddle. “It’s the only one like it in the world. I think they ought to leave it alone.”

Curt Parent, who owns and operates Cook’s Lobster House near the bridge, said he plans to plans to attend the DOT’s public hearing on Aug. 26 to find out what residents would like to see done to the bridge.

“If it weren’t for that bridge I wouldn’t be here. The ocean would have wiped me off this spit of land years ago,” Parent said. “I think the people in this town, across the board, would not want to see that bridge altered in any way.”

Cribstone Bridge was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1984, joining the Brooklyn Bridge and George Washington Bridge. In 1974, the Cribstone Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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