RUMFORD — After finding corroded parts on Haverhill Bridge, which carries River Street traffic into the Rumford paper mill, the Maine Department of Transportation on Wednesday lowered the span’s load weight limit from 50 tons to 10 tons.

Haverhill Bridge provides access to the Catalyst paper mill, formerly owned by NewPage Corp., and to Brookfield Power from upper Congress Street behind Rite Aid.

An MDOT crew recently “blocked up” the corroded sections to take pressure off them, Norman Haggan, MDOT regional manager in Dixfield, said Wednesday morning.

Vehicles heavier than 10 tons will have to use one of the other mill entrances for deliveries, Ted Talbot, MDOT spokesman, said Wednesday in Augusta.

However, Haggan said he didn’t think there were many, if any, delivery trucks using the Haverhill Bridge entrance.

“I talked to mill officials and they said it’s not a big impact,” he said. “They said they only use it for employee parking.”

The department had initially wanted to remove the 365-foot, concrete-and-steel-girder span, which was built in 1964, Ben Condon, MDOT project manager, told selectmen at a meeting in March 2013.

Condon said the MDOT wanted to replace the aging, state bridge that once spanned water in the canal system with a less costly sloping road. The canal was realigned so it no longer flows under the bridge.

Condon said they would like to remove the bridge, because it would cost $3.5 million to $4 million just to replace it, with long-term maintenance costs to consider.

However, Haggan said Wednesday that the MDOT now plans to rehabilitate the bridge by strengthening it. He said the project is still in the design phase, but they’re trying to accelerate it to get bidding underway in June or July.

According to the MDOT 2015-17 Work Plan, the project is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

Talbot said the lower weight posting will be in effect until the MDOT finishes the project later this year. The bridge was rated for 100,000 pounds and that will be its load weight limit again once the project is completed, he said.

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