MEXICO/RUMFORD — The replacement project of the Rumford-Mexico Bridge, also known as the Red Bridge, located along Route 2, will get underway in October, said Town Manager Raquel Welch-Day.

She told the Select Board on Sept. 5 that work will begin by removing trees along both sides along the banking on the Swift River to make room for a temporary bridge.

Welch-Day said it won’t be until next May before the current bridge will be removed.

On April 6, the Rumford Board of Selectmen authorized Town Manager Stacy Carter to sign an agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation for use of town-owned land (known as Three Fields) for a temporary bridge.

Carter said MDOT will reimburse the town $1,000 for the time period that the space will be used. Once the bridge is completed, they will incur the cost of putting back the cement steps going down to the field, put in a handicapped ramp, and also redo the dugouts to the field.
According to the MDOT work plan (FY 2023-2025), the bridge replacement comes with a price tag of $8.85 million. The project is also a Federal Highway Administration INFRA Grant recipient.

INFRA (known statutorily as the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects) awards competitive grants for multimodal freight and highway projects of national or regional significance to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas.

In June of 2020, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, vice chair of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that MaineDOT has been awarded a total of $38.1 million for the replacement and rehabilitation of seven bridges, including the Red Bridge.
As part of that announcement, MaineDOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note said, “These funds are necessary to replace seven of Maine’s nearly 3,000 bridges. Replacing these bridges will help to improve the economic viability of some Maine’s more rural areas, ensuring reliable movement of goods across our state.”

He said all of the bridges are functionally obsolete, having been continually repaired over 90 years in some cases, and are critical mobility links in their communities. If these bridges were allowed to continue to deteriorate, they would become subject to weight restrictions and eventually closure, resulting in substantial detours across several communities in Maine.

Vehicles cross the Rumford-Mexico Red Bridge in Rumford. The span, which takes Route 2 over the Swift River, is being replaced starting in October, according Mexico Town Manager Raquel Welch-Day. A temporary bridge will be erected at right during the two-year project. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

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