OTISFIELD — Selectmen say they will ask Harrison Town Manager Brad Plante this week what he thinks can be done to maintain the rundown Scribners Mill Bridge, but they have little choice but to assume the bridge is currently safe.

Earlier this year, state Department of Transportation officials said the 73-year-old Scribners Mill Bridge that crosses the Crooked River at the Otisfield/Harrison town line had deficiencies and would be closed if it was found to be unsafe.

The problem, said selectmen, is that the state will not return to inspect it until 2011 and have told the towns they must maintain the bridge in the meantime.

“Until the state says its closing, it’s safe to pass,” Selectmen Chairman Hal Ferguson said. A “pass at your own risk” sign is at the entrance to the bridge.

Selectmen said they think it’s up to the state to determine whether the bridge is safe and because the state has inspected it and will not inspect it again until 2011, the board assumes the state is saying the bridge is currently safe.

But furthering the problem, selectmen said, is the state’s mandate that the two towns maintain the bridge. The DOT has said that portions of the bridge are deteriorating, parts of the deck are not welded down and other work needs to be done.

“They told us if we don’t do the maintenance, they will close it,” Selectman Rick Micklon said at the board meeting last week.

The last time the town used money to fix it was 10 to 12 years ago to repair an exit and entrance sign.

“We can’t afford to turn back to taxpayers and say we need $150,000 to fix the bridge,” Micklon said.

Ferguson said it will take about $250,000 to fix the bridge.

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