LEEDS – Drivers using Route 219 in Leeds should allow extra time for a traffic detour this weekend, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

“We’re going to be doing some major work at Foss Bridge, which carries Route 219 over the Dead River just east of the intersection of Route 219 and the Campbell Road,” explained Craig Hurd, Maine DOT’s construction manager on the project.

“Route 219 will be closed to traffic starting about 7 p.m. Friday, May 19, and remain closed until about 5 a.m. on Monday, May 22,” Hurd said. “During the closure, traffic will follow a marked detour using the section of Route 106 south of Route 219, the Church Hill Road and the North Road, a distance of about seven miles. The entire detour route will be clearly marked with signs to assist drivers who are not familiar with the area.”

Hurd said the closure is necessary so construction crews can slide the existing bridge upstream, where it will become a temporary crossing to carry traffic over the river while crews build a new bridge in the location of the old one.

“The relocation of the bridge and temporary approaches to it will require drivers to slow down as they approach the bridge, which they should be doing already because it’s a work zone,” Hurd noted. “Drivers can expect sharp curves on approaches to the bridge and workers on approaches to each end of the bridge. Slowing down in the work zone provides increased safety for everyone.”

The new bridge is being built by Wyman and Simpson of Richmond on a bid of just under $2.2 million. The contract calls for the contractor to have traffic back on the new structure by Christmas, with a completion date for the entire project of Aug. 1, 2007.