BETHEL — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday evening to accept a $16,900 bid from a Richmond engineering company to complete Pleasant Stream Bridge design work.

Interim Town Manager Steve Eldridge said the Maine Department of Transportation approached the town about replacing the span, also known as the Smith Road Bridge..

“It was a 50-50 deal,” Eldridge said. “They agreed to pay 50 percent of it, and Bethel would pay for the other 50 percent.”

He said Oxford County has agreed to pay half of Bethel’s cost because the bridge leads to a few homes in Mason Township.

Calderwood Engineering of Richmond was the only company to submit a bid. Eldridge said the company estimated that the cost to construct the bridge would be about $240,000.

“I find that cost estimate a little on the high side,” Eldridge said. “I’ve put up a bridge much bigger than this before in a different town, and it cost much less than that, even when including the engineering work. I find that cost estimate extremely difficult to swallow.”

The bridge over Pleasant Stream has a 40-foot span and its abutments are “very old,” he said.

“MDOT has considered this bridge as something that needs to be replaced for a while now,” Eldridge said.

Public Works Director Scott Sumner said the bridge has a wooden deck that sits on top of steel girders.

“We replanked the bridge two or three years ago to buy us some time, but this is one of those issues that keeps getting put on the back burner,” Sumner said. “Something needs to be done about it.”

Eldridge said MDOT has the money for the bridge construction in their 2015-17 biannual budget.

“If we don’t move forward with it now, I don’t know if they’re still going to have the money there down the road,” Eldridge said.

The board approved Calderwood Engineering’s bid and allowed them to begin work on the design.

In other business, selectmen approved junkyard permits for Todd Wilson, Geoffrey Gaudreau and Eric Paul.

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