LEWISTON — A bridge replacement project originally slated for earlier this year at the small but vital Beech Street bridge, will instead begin in October.

The 53-foot-long, single-lane bridge over the canal along Oxford Street is the only way for vehicles to get to Simard-Payne Memorial Park, a popular site for hosting large events and the future home of Museum L-A.

The construction plans include expanding the bridge to two lanes with a concrete bridge deck and abutments, making it easier for large vehicles and heavy loads to traverse the bridge. Due to its condition, the bridge has long been “load limited.” 

However, according to City Administrator Ed Barrett, the original bid came in over the city’s $730,000 budget. The project was originally scheduled for April and May. 

“It was re-advertised with construction moving to the fall where the time frame is not as tight to avoid events,” he said, referring to namely the Great Falls Balloon Festival taking place this weekend.

Construction company Reed & Reed, Inc. has been awarded the bid. Work is scheduled to start in October and be completed by Dec. 31, Barrett said. 


At the time the project was announced, a city news release said, “This project is a huge step toward future improvements to Simard-Payne Park, allowing for expanded activities and events. It also provides proper access for trucks, cars and emergency vehicles to access the mill at 35 Beech St. and the future Museum L-A.”

Museum L-A is in the middle of a design phase for its new property at the former Camden Yarns Mill. 

Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director of Museum L-A, told the Sun Journal in March that in the future, the museum will bring in school buses, tour buses and trucks delivering exhibits for the repurposed mill — meaning a functional two-lane bridge will be important.

Barrett said the new bridge will make future events like the balloon festival and Dempsey Challenge easier for organizers, but that the postponed project will not impact preparations for the balloon festival this weekend. 

“Once the new bridge is in, supporting events in the park will be easier; however, the balloon festival has operated for a number of years within the load restrictions of the existing bridge, so they should have no problem this year,” he said.

The only vehicle bridge with access to Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston is the Beech Street bridge. A replacement project originally scheduled for April-May will instead begin this October. (Sun Journal file photo)

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