April 06, 2020

International bridge talk scheduled for Nov. 2

MADAWASKA – A contingent from the Maine Department of Transportation will be at Madawaska on Nov. 2 to discuss local plans for the construction of a new international bridge, according to Rep. Rosaire Paradis.

The 1 p.m. meeting at the Gateway Motel, where Paradis believes a working model or template could be provided, will reportedly include MDOT Commissioner David Cole. Paradis said the federal General Services Administration will also be at the session.

The Edmundston-Madawaska International Bridge Committee was formed this summer to see about the construction of a second bridge across the St. John River. The bridge would be placed at the St. David Village area to connect with the Trans Canada Highway.

Paradis said Gov. John Baldacci supports the project and has asked Cole to work toward a major investment in the St. John Valley.

Paradis said no timetable has been set for any segments of the project.

“The bridge project has gained much credibility and momentum because of the stamp of approval of the present administration in Augusta,” Paradis said. “The state is committed to putting this project on the fast track to approval and construction.”

Paradis believes a bridge at Madawaska can be built for some $20 million, with Canada and the United States each paying half.

Christina Therrien, town manager of Madawaska and chairman of the bridge committee, said there has been no ballpark figure nor timetable for the Madawaska proposal.

She said no actual site has been eyeballed, but that Canadian officials are looking for an area near the St. Basile Mall in New Brunswick, where the highway already has an exit available.

She said the timetable can’t be estimated because the permitting for such a project could involve as many as 40 agencies, state, local and federal, on both sides of the border.

“Funding is always an issue for projects like this,” Therrien said.

Kevin Rousseau, a longtime project manager for a bridge in Calais, said the permitting process there started in 1999 and was just recently completed. That project is going to bid this month and construction is expected to start in the spring.

“It’s a complicated process,” Rousseau said Tuesday. “I will speak to the Calais project when we meet in Madawaska.

“It’s to educate the committee and the community,” he said. “It takes a real long time. It’s very complicated.”

He said the Calais project cost a total of $120 million. Discussion on that project dates back to the 1970s.

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