2016-11-17 / Front Page

Stackpole Bridge to be completed in May

By Anthony Aloisio
Staff Writer


The stones that made up the original outer wall of the Stackpole bridge. The stones are stockpiled here in the same order they appeared on the bridge. They will be cut and replaces as part of the outer wall of the rebuilt bridge. (Anthony Aloisio photo) The stones that made up the original outer wall of the Stackpole bridge. The stones are stockpiled here in the same order they appeared on the bridge. They will be cut and replaces as part of the outer wall of the rebuilt bridge. (Anthony Aloisio photo) SACO – The rehabilitation construction of the historic Stackpole Bridge on Simpson Road has encountered delays and will not be complete until May 2017. However, contractor CPM Constructors has agreed to complete sufficient work that, while not completing the project, will allow the bridge to re-open by Jan. 27.

“The contractor is committed to completing the work of the contract at no additional cost to the city,” reads a memorandum published by City Administrator Kevin Sutherland.

The city is working with CPM on a formal contract extension, and public works is supportive, according to the memo.

“A lot of that stuff can’t happen during the winter, but it was important to the city that we strive to get at least one lane of traffic open,” said Public Works Director Patrick Fox.


The rehabilitation of Stackpole Bridge was originally intended to meet a historic preservation standard that would allow it to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. However, in June 2016 the city was provided an opinion from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission that said the design for the rehabilitation would probably not meet that standard. The city plans to apply for the status regardless. (Anthony Aloisio photo) The rehabilitation of Stackpole Bridge was originally intended to meet a historic preservation standard that would allow it to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. However, in June 2016 the city was provided an opinion from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission that said the design for the rehabilitation would probably not meet that standard. The city plans to apply for the status regardless. (Anthony Aloisio photo) According to Fox, delays come from the fact that many things about the bridge’s structure were unknowable.

“It’s been a unique project from the getgo,” Fox said. “Once they got involved in the actual taking apart of the structure, they ran into things that just couldn’t be anticipated.”

“You really could see so much about how the arch was constructed by what you could visually inspect from underneath the bridge,” Fox continued. “What they found was, the layers of rock and the size of the rock was quite a bit different from what it looked like from the outside of the structure. There was always going to be concrete placements around the arch to hold it in place, but it got into a lot more concrete placements. They had to drill and secure rebar into the stones.”

Fox also said the ledge profile of the Stackpole Creek ravine – the ratio of dirt to rock under the ground – was unknown. Part of the problem, Fox said, was that the bridge’s construction so far back in history meant that there were no records available for the construction contractor to reference.

“If you were doing any sort of newer structure, you’d at least be able to look back and see how it was constructed,” Fox said. “Lots of times with older structures, you’d at least have maybe some photographs when it was built. We didn’t have that for this structure either.”

Because of Maine’s climate, the construction’s timing will have to be interrupted for the winter.

“The grouting and the masonry work is just weather- and temperaturesensitive,” Fox said.

David Precourt, city councilor for Ward 1, where the bridge is located, was understanding of the circumstances.

“It’s winter in Maine,” Precourt said. “It’s tough to do construction like that.”

“At this point, it is what it is,” Precourt added. “They’ve got to get the thing done. If they’re not getting it done this year they’ll finish it next year. As long as the costs don’t go up, what else can we do?”

“I kind of figured they wouldn’t be able to work around the bridge in the winter,” said Sue Littlefield, member of Friends of Stackpole Bridge, the citizens’ group responsible in part for the push to rehabilitate the bridge.

Littlefield also lives adjacent to the construction site.

“We know the workmen practically on a first-name basis,” Littlefield said.

“(We) are being pretty patient, and are just glad they’re doing a good job.” Littlefield continued.

After the winter, the stones that made up the sides of the old bridge will be replaced as part of the new bridge.

“The old stones that came off the bridge have been placed to the areas of the wall they came off of. They’ve been placed in that order in stockpiles,” Fox said. “A mason is going to come in and cut those stones. They will actually anchor them and grout in between them on the concrete wall. What you see moving forward will be almost identical to what you saw before we took the bridge apart.”

Before the end of January, construction to make the bridge functional will mean building the concrete outer structure and filling it in. Concrete wall pieces will be installed as upstream and downstream walls, and the middle of the bridge will be filled in with gravel. That design is similar to the design of the old structure, according to Fox.

The design is still the same design as it was this past summer when, as the Courier reported in its July 7 issue, it was discovered that the rehabilitation would likely not qualify as a historic site for the National Register of Historic Places. This was according to a nondeterminative opinion by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. According to Fox, the city still plans to apply for the historic status in spite of the opinion.

Fox added that members of the public works department has enjoyed working with CPM.

“They’re being very conscientious in working with such an old structure,” Fox said.

In related news, the bridge came up briefly in discussion at the Monday, Nov. 14 city council workshop, as part of a comment on the expected redevelopment and historic preservation of the Notre Dame de Lourdes church on Cutts Avenue.

“We were willing to save a bridge that can’t be historic any more, but we’re not willing to save a historic building in this community that, many people have gone through that parish?” said Ward 3 Councilor William Doyle.

Inga Browne, another member of Friends of Stackpole Bridge, believes that decisions regarding historic preservation should be more informed and careful. “The city of Saco is in dire need of developing an organized and comprehensive approach to identifying and protecting our community’s historical buildings and structures, both private and public, both downtown and rurally located,” Browne wrote in an email.

“How, if, whether something gets saved is certainly on the table and needs lots of discussion,” Browne continued, “but the baseline ‘educational’ aspect needs addressing and the City has to create an implicit understanding and positive value on the merit of these buildings and structures.”

Contact Staff Writer Anthony Aloisio at news@inthecourier.com.

Return to top