Foundation work has begun on a new Waldo-Hancock bridge over Maine’s Penobscot River. The $65-million single-plane, cable-stayed concrete segmental structure will incorporate an observatory deck in one of two pylons to view nearby historic Fort Knox. But steel proponents think the design choice is too costly and are lobbying for language in the new federal transportation bill to require dual design alternatives on major structures.

VIEW. Pylon will have observation deck. (Photo courtesy of Maine DOT)

Public planning meetings covered options such as a suspension bridge and a single-pylon cable-stayed bridge. Fort Knox ultimately influenced design, says Bruce Van Note, Maine Dept. of Transportation deputy commissioner. The 420-ft-tall pylons will be obelisk-shaped, like the Washington Monument. Local granite also used in Fort Knox will be used on the bridge.

MDOT is fast-tracking the project because of structural degradation on the original 72-year-old steel suspension bridge, which carries State Route 1 between Prospect and Verona Island (ENR 11/10/03 p. 24). MDOT hired designer Figg Engineering Group Inc., Tallahassee, last July and Verona, Maine-based Cianbro/Reed & Reed LLC in November as foundation contractor and design-builder. The 2,115-ft-long bridge is scheduled for a 2005 completion.

“We’ve started cofferdam work on both sides of the river,” says Kaven E. Philbrook, JV construction manager. A 16-ft-thick spread footing on rock will support the west approach, with 270 H-piles and a pile cap on the east approach.


Chicago-based National Steel Bridge Alliance objected to the RFP. “We think a steel bridge will save $25 million,” says Conn Abnee, NSBA executive director. NSBA Regional Director William F. McEleney says the public advisory committee in September recommended a steel, dual-plane cable-stayed bridge. “We were concerned about tendons, but MDOT...said maintenance costs [on concrete] were better,” says David L. Milan, PAC chairman.

NSBA has pushed for federal rules for dual design alternatives for six months. “We want to use economic evaluations and good science to eliminate biased protect taxpayers,” says Abnee. “We didn’t set out to do this because of Waldo-Hancock. But it could be the poster bridge for this initiative.”