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Bridge in Hampden is first of its kind, uses locally developed technology

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 3:39 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The Grist Mill Bridge on Route 1A in Hampden has officially reopened to traffic after being under construction since April.

”It’s the first one of its kind.” says Ken Sweeney, president and chief engineer of AIT Bridges in Brewer.

It looks more or less like any other bridge but was constructed out of a special composite material.

“We licensed the technology from UMaine. Bringing it to infrastructure is something that is relatively recent.”

“It doesn’t corrode like steel and reinforced concrete, so it will have a long life of over 100 years.”

The girders supporting the bridge are actually composed of fabric fibers and resin bonded in a specialized process, making them lightweight and providing other advantages over traditional materials.

“When steel and reinforced concrete fail they tend to do so dramatically. Composites on the other hand, they have a lot of warning.”

The bridge will require virtually no maintenance and was tested extensively during production for strength. A final test involved four heavily loaded trucks backed onto the bridge.

“They had upwards of 200,000 pounds on the bridge in the center, and it deflected about half an inch.”

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Grist Mill bridge, and AIT is looking ahead to what’s next.

“Our next bridge that we’re going to do is on Route 69 in Hampden, and then we’ve got projects in Florida, and hopefully, we’ll have them in Illinois and Washington.”

The girders are manufactured right in Brewer. AIT Bridges is proud that they source their materials, equipment, and personnel in Maine.

“Made in Maine by Maine people. We hope to grow it nationally and even internationally.”

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