PARIS – County commissioners were told Tuesday that the state has agreed to spend up to $400,000 to repair Twin Bridges over Sunday River in Riley Township if the county kicks in $72,516.

County administrator Carole Fulton said the fix on the two separate spans on Coburn Field Road should be permanent and money for the project is available in the county’s unorganized territories budget. She said the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, which owns 13,869 acres of land accessible by the bridge, has offered to contribute $15,000 toward the county’s share while Sunday River Ski Resort, which owns 5,364 acres in the area, has offered $2,000.

Commissioner Caldwell Jackson of Oxford said he did not support the project by the Maine Department of Transportation, saying only a limited number of people use the road. The bridges access recreational areas and seasonal camps, but no full-time residences.

“I just think that money could be better used elsewhere,” he said.

Scott Parker, director of the county Emergency Management Agency, said traffic on the bridges, which are close together and share one name, is heavy due to people accessing the recreational areas.

Commissioner David Duguay of Byron said repairing the bridges will help increase fire protection in the area.

Commissioners decided in May to discontinue maintenance of the road and bridges, saying the cost of fixing the two spans outweighed the tax benefit to the county from the township. However, the decision has not gone into effect.

At a public hearing in August, representatives from the Mahoosuc Land Trust, Sunday River, and Bureau of Parks and Land spoke on behalf of preserving the route. The representatives said it accesses popular recreational areas, including Frenchmen’s Hole, as well as timber harvesting areas.

The bridges are posted with a three-ton weight limit.

Fulton said the bridges were once moved by the National Guard after that agency repaired them, and that the county has traditionally maintained the road and bridges.

Commissioner Steve Merrill of Norway said he thought the county is obligated to maintain the bridges, but it should seek contributions toward the cost. Commissioners also criticized Sunday River’s contribution as too small.

“They’ve got a for-profit operation going up there,” Merrill said of Sunday River’s logging work.

“I think their interest should be more than $2,000,” Duguay said.

A Sunday River representative said in August that the resort has 3,500 acres in forestry management accessible by the bridge. The posted weight limit has prevented heavy equipment from entering the area.


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