RUMFORD – Unless the state gets an extra $12 million from the federal government soon, work to replace Route 232’s Martin Memorial Bridge over the Androscoggin River in Rumford Point won’t begin until 2013.

Leanne Timberlake, project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation Bridge Program, said the state has started the $200,000 engineering process to draft plans to replace the 600-foot-long span.

“We’re trying to get the plans ready to go in case we get the funding,” Timberlake said Wednesday morning from Augusta.

Because the three-truss bridge’s framework frequently gets struck by tractor-trailer rigs, Timberlake said the new bridge will most likely resemble the Route 140 arched bridge in Canton.

At Monday night’s informational meeting in Rumford, MDOT officials said the bridge’s concrete deck is “in really poor condition.” However, Timberlake stressed that the bridge isn’t in danger of collapsing. It just needs work or replacement.

Regarding comments from the 11 people who attended, Timberlake said one man indicated he’d like to see the 53-year-old bridge fixed up and preserved rather than replaced.

“Other people were concerned about heavy truck traffic beating up the bridge. Some also asked about moving the bridge a little ways upstream or downstream of where it is now,” Timberlake said.

The picturesque bridge carries a daily traffic load of 1,700 vehicles, 16 percent of that being heavy-truck traffic.

“That’s a pretty high percentage,” Timberlake said.

The daily load is expected to increase by 3,000 vehicles in 20 years.

Under the state’s six-year plan, the bridge won’t be funded for construction until 2013.

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