Bridges represent a crucial component of American infrastructure, connecting communities and allowing people to traverse previously insurmountable gaps and crossings. These essential structures require regular maintenance to keep them well-functioning. While many states and counties do an excellent job repairing their bridges, some fall short. Maine, in particular, had several counties that ranked with some of the worst bridges in the country.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) defines “poor condition” as when one or more key bridge components need repair. Read on to learn about the worst bridges in different Maine counties and why they’re in various states of disrepair.
The Worst Bridges in Maine
Maine is home to just over 2,500 bridges throughout the state, connecting its residents to cities, towns, and rural areas. Of these bridges, 355 — approximately 14.2% — rank as structurally deficient and in “poor” condition, per the USDOT. This amount had risen since 2018, when about 325 bridges were considered lacking in proper structure.
The Interstate Highway System is responsible for the operation of 28 of these bridges. Another 85.9% of the bridges are the individual counties’ responsibilities. Due to these structural issues, about 134 bridges in Maine require weight load limits, which limit the size of truck crossings in certain parts of the state.
Maine officials project that repairing every damaged bridge in the state would cost approximately $379.3 million.
About 313 bridges service Penobscot County residents, with 58 total in structurally deficient condition, approximately 18.5% of all bridges. Inspectors recommended urgent repair or corrective action for another 14% of Penobscot County’s bridges.
In total, drivers need to navigate safely over 35,000 square meters of poor bridge conditions in the area. When driving across unstable bridges, moving slowly, watching for road conditions, and being aware of your surroundings are essential.
Some of the worst bridges in Penobscot County include:
- The Stillwater Avenue bridge crossing Chan Stillwater River in both directions supports 16,728 cars traveling daily but requires structural repairs.
- The southbound I-95 bridge over Soudabscook Stream is considered structurally deficient, even though it supports over 13,000 travelers every day.
- The Hogan Road crossing above I-95, as of December 2021, was ranked as needing corrective repairs.
Located in the western part of Maine, Franklin County features 130 bridges. A solid 25 (or 19.2%) of these bridges are in poor condition. Another 28 of its bridges, about 21.5%, rank in fair condition, meaning they could use some amount of repair but haven’t reached the critical point. These unstable structures represent about 7507 square meters of unsafe bridges that Franklin County drivers must navigate.
Among Maine’s worst and most structurally unsound bridges in Franklin County are:
- Route 156 over Wilson Stream sees approximately 6,000 drivers daily, with about 2% of total traffic consisting of heavy-load trucks.
- Route 41’s bridge carries over 4200 drivers daily over Sandy River’s banks, yet requires serious repairs to its deck geometry.
- State Highway 61 spans the Carrabasset River and requires serious maintenance to prepare for the projected 3,521 daily traffic count in 2023.
In the western side of Maine, Somerset County’s population of roughly 50,000 people uses 169 bridges to get to and from their destinations. Of these bridges, 38 (or 21.9%) are rated in poor condition by the USDOT. Another 15.61% were evaluated as in need of serious structural repair to support safe crossings.
Some of the worst bridges in Somerset County, ME, are:
- Route US2 over 23rd Street supports 5628 daily drivers over Carrabasset Stream, but its deck geometry and much of its structure require renovations.
- Crossing Ferguson Stream, Route 150’s Main Street bridge’s superstructure and deck need serious repairs and rank as high-priority fixes per the most recent bridge inspection.
- The bridge where Route 43 crosses Kincaid Brook needs serious attention from local infrastructure departments, needing more guardrails and with a failing superstructure.
In Oxford County, 35 of its 253 total bridges ranked in poor condition, according to the USDOT. The most recent bridge inspections found that about 22.92% of Oxford County bridges required structural repairs. All in all, Maine drivers must navigate over 7,000 square meters of poor-quality bridge when traversing Oxford County.
Among the most structurally unsound bridges in Franklin County are:
- Route US #2 over Swift River sees an average of 10,165 cars every day, 5% of which are loaded trucks. The most recent inspection urges high-priority corrective action to repair the bridge.
- Little Andro River’s Route 26 crossing helps 7915 cars arrive at their destination. While structurally, it meets the minimum criteria, its deck condition has greatly deteriorated.
- MCRR Siding’s Railroad Street bridge carries nearly 6400 cars, of which 5% is loaded truck traffic and needs serious repairs. Traffic counts are projected to scale up to nearly 9000 cars by 2036.
Cumberland County is home to 343 of Maine’s bridges, of which about 18.8% the USDOT ranks in poor condition. About 35 bridges in the county require urgent structural fixes, while another 209 of them are considered to be in fair condition – functional but not good.
Cumberland County, Maine’s worst bridges include:
- The I-295 north and southbound over Route 88, which sees over 27,000 cars daily, ranks as the most traveled structurally deficient bridge in all of Maine.
- Route US 201 crosses the Androscoggin River in Cumberland County as an urban minor arterial bridge. The bridge needs urgent repair attention, especially while supporting over 16,000 passengers on average each day.
- Bucknam Road’s bridge of the I-295 southbound supports 12,430 crossings daily but features an “intolerable” deck evenness and structure, per the National Bridge Inventory.
Located in Central Maine, Kennebec County is home to the state capital of Augusta and a population of over 123,000 people. The region supports 192 bridges, 25 (13%) of which the USDOT rated as structurally insufficient.
Over 10,000 square meters of bridges in Kennebec County pose risks to drivers who must use them on their commutes. Driving cautiously and being aware of your surroundings when crossing unstable bridges is essential.
Some of Kennebec County’s worst-maintained bridges are:
- The Rice Rips Road overpass of I-95, built in 1959, needs structural repairs to fix its deck geometry and vertical clearance.
- The Route 126 crossing of Cobbossecontee Street in Kennebec County is nearly a century old and requires urgent repairs to support the 2,396 cars that cross each day.
- Castle Island Road travels over Long Pond, and when the National Bridge Institute last reviewed it, it required serious corrective repairs.
Aroostook County is home to 234 bridges, of which 10.2% are structurally deficient, and 8.5% are rated poor by the USDOT. Located in northern Maine, close to the Canadian border, Aroostook County must repair 11,257 square meters of bridges in poor condition.
Some of the worst bridges in Maine’s Aroostook County are:
- Route 163’s bridge over Presque Isle Stream features uneven deck geometry, making for a bumpy ride for the 8853 cars crossing it daily.
- Bridge Street crosses over the St. John Riverand and supports 2,640 vehicles daily, despite needing high-priority deck replacements.
- The Route 167 bridge over Pattie Brook is nearly 100 years old — built in 1930 — and struggles to support the over 2200 cars it sees each day.
Summary of The 7 Counties in Maine With the Absolute Worst Bridges
Here are the 7 Counties in Maine With the Absolute Worst Bridges:
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