NEW SHARON — Selectmen will discuss the removal of the historic iron bridge over the Sandy River on Wednesday.

The Maine Department of Transportation notified town officials the 1916 bridge is in imminent danger of failing, Board of Selectmen Chairman Maynard Webster said Tuesday.

He expects selectmen to make a decision on removal of the town bridge at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Town Office.

“It’s pretty concrete, we have to approve the demolition,” he said. “We all wanted to see it preserved but it’s not in the cards for the town.”

The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the subject of restoration efforts which were not completed due to lack of funding, Webster said.

The bridge used to carry traffic from the old Route 2 but was closed to motor vehicles due to cracks in an abutment more than a decade ago. It was eventually closed to pedestrians as it deteriorated.


Selectmen had tasked a local Save Our Bridge Committee to try and find ways to save the bridge in the late 1990s. Repairs at that time were estimated at between $1.5 million and $2 million. The town did not have the resources to fix it.

Efforts to fund the repair failed, including a bill at the Legislature in 2001.

Joyce Noel Taylor, a DOT chief engineer, wrote to Webster on Oct. 30 to provide him with the latest inspection results.

“The inspection revealed significant disrepair to an extent that I believe action should be taken to prevent the bridge from collapsing into the stream,” Taylor wrote. “The bridge is not safe to stand on top of or underneath.”

The bridge abutment is showing significant vertical cracking, unsupported concrete and separation at the east abutment, according to the letter.

“As chief engineer of the Maine DOT, I am advising you to consider immediate action to address this issue,” Taylor wrote. “At one point, the Maine DOT offered to remove the bridge at no cost to the town. This offer still stands but we need to initiate an agreement prior to the bridge collapsing.”


If the town wishes to leave the bridge in place, Taylor said she was concerned the debris from the bridge collapse could contribute to flooding issues and damage the state-owned bridge downstream.

The DOT will not remove the bridge from the river if it collapses, according to the letter.

DOT bridge maintenance engineer John Buxton called Webster last week to discuss the state’s concerns over the bridge in more detail, Webster said.

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