Truckers Banned From Crossing ‘Historic’ Bridge, Threatened With $325 Fine
Brunswick, ME — Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) have officially been banned from a popular bridge connecting two Maine towns, and violators will face a $325 fine per non-compliance violation.
The ban on the Frank J. Wood Bridge— which carries traffic on Route 201 and Route 24 over the Androscoggin River between the cities of Brunswick and Topsham — went into effect on Monday, November 22.
Maine’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) made the decision to close the bridge to commercial traffic last month in the midst of a years-long legal battle regarding the bridge’s future.
The almost 90-year-old bridge is riddled with structural concerns, including “severe deterioration,” “completely failed joint seal[s],” and “section loss up to 100 percent” in certain areas, according to a September 2021 inspection.
The results of the inspection prompted MDOT to lower the weight limits on the bridge to 10 tons (20,000 lbs.) in October, down significantly from the previous weight limit of 25 tons (50,000 lbs.).
However, according to MDOT Public Information Officer Paul Merrill, non-compliance following the new weight limits forced the CMV ban in November.
The ban includes any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 lbs., including, but not limited to, semi-trucks and school buses, according to MDOT and local authorities.
Violators will receive a $325 fine per violation.
MDOT had long advocated for a complete replacement of the FJW Bridge.
However, its efforts have been thwarted by activists who claim the bridge is “historic” and should thereby be fixed and upgraded instead of demolished and replaced.
According to Merrill, the cost to replace the bridge is just shy of $22 million, which MDOT argues is less than the cost of upgrading the current structure.