A nearly 6-mile stretch of Route 125 in Bowdoin and Bowdoinham is scheduled for paving this year by the Maine Department of Transportation. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Despite a pending lawsuit, the Maine Department of Transportation plans to seek bids for the replacement of the Frank J. Wood Bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick this summer.

MaineDOT unveiled its latest three-year work plan earlier this month, which includes $19.8 million to replace the bridge carrying Route 201 traffic over the Androscoggin River between Brunswick and Topsham.

The project is scheduled to go out to bid on Sept. 30, “but that’s subject to change based on many factors,” said department spokesman Paul Merrill on Tuesday.

The state’s decision to demolish the 83-year-old truss bridge has been controversial. Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Bridge Foundation filed a lawsuit in September 2019 alleging the Federal Highway Administration and Maine Department of Transportation relied on inaccurate information to artificially inflate the projected costs of rehabilitating the existing bridge. MDOT has denied those claims.

Merrill acknowledged last month the lawsuit could delay the project, which was expected to start as early as 2021.

“I think it’s fair to say that at some point this will present a delay but right now we haven’t seen one,” he said in December. “But we’re also very early in the process.”

Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note notes in the work plan the list of capital projects in 2020 is shorter than normal due to workforce challenges, work constraints and other factors pushing up costs.

“Accordingly, this work plan largely consists of spreading what used to be two years of capital projects over three years to stay within funding and cost constraints,” he said.

Smaller bridge projects in the Midcoast include a $1.04 million rehabilitation of the Max L. Wilder Memorial Bridge that carries Route 127 over the Sasanoa River in Arrowsic and Woolwich. The Paul Davis Memorial Bridge along High Street over Route 1 in Bath will also get a $601,000 surface replacement.

The state has planned several local paving projects for this year, notably $1.47 million in work along Route 196 in Topsham and Lisbon stretching more than 5 miles northwest of Birch Ridge Avenue in Topsham.

Roughly 6 miles of Route 125 in Bowdoin and Bowdoinham will be paved starting at the Lisbon town line. Another section of Route 125 in Bowdoinham will be paved between Route 138 and Route 24. The work totals $269,000.

Route 197 in Richmond will also get some attention. The state plans to pave 2.5 miles starting near River Road in Richmond and extending east to Dresden. Another 2.8 miles of Route 197 in Richmond will be paved east of Ridge Road.

The plan includes money for airports. Brunswick Executive Airport at Brunswick Landing is slated to receive $2.47 million for safety and infrastructure improvements that may include the construction of a 10-unit T Hangar and airport electrical improvements.

“Our state needs well-maintained and reliable transportation infrastructure so that Mainers can get to work, school, errands, and everything else they do day-to-day,” said Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, in a statement about the work plan.

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