FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday night approved using $5,000 for a pre-engineering report for rebuilding a bridge in West Farmington.

The money will come from the Rail Trail Bridge Reserve Account.

The railroad bridge that allowed snowmobile travel across the Sandy River was removed several years ago. Since then the town, Androscoggin Valley Council of Government and the state have looked at ways to replace it. A study in the early 2000s estimated the cost at $1.6 million.

A new way is being looked at for crossing that span, Town Manager Christian Waller said.

A federal tourism grant being worked on requires a $15,000 pre-engineering report, High Peaks Alliance Executive Director Brent West said, and $5,000 each has been secured for the report through snowmobile clubs and a personal donation, he noted.

If approved, the tourism grant can cover upwards of 80% of construction costs, West said.


“Eventually there would be a need for state, local or a combination for a 20% match,” he said. The person donating the $5,000 has indicated a willingness to donate substantially towards the match once the total cost is known, he said.

The bridge would be cable stayed, similar to a suspension bridge in that it’s free span and wouldn’t need the center pier. That would alleviate some of the issues with permitting, going in the Sandy River, West said.

“I’d love to see that span put back together,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said, adding that increased business in town and getting snowmobiles off Center Bridge were positives. “Between the southern end of the county and the northern end, this is the missing link. It would improve movement in both directions.”

“A lot of snowmobilers bypass Farmington as it’s difficult to navigate,” West said.

Approaching the county and other towns for collaborations was suggested by Bunker. They are trying to set priorities on how to use coronavirus relief funds, he said.

“It really is a regional project, (and) will have a big impact on the downtown,” West said. He plans to connect with all the affected towns, he said.


All of the opportunities that could arise from better connectivity with the downtown, help for University of Maine at Farmington, it would be a draw regionally for sure, West said. The congressional delegation has been approached regarding other federal funding should the grant not work out, he noted.

“I’m in full support of this,” Selectman Scott Landry, who is also treasurer of High Peaks Alliance, said. “It’s been a topic of discussion a long time to bring the whole county together. People in Wilton and Jay are excited. It will help them.”

The connection to Titcomb Mountain would be good for bikers, West said.

“Recreational visitors generally have disposable income,” he noted. “When traveling they’re spending money, shopping.”

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