Border communities want recreational lane added to bridge design

MADAWASKA, Maine - A Valley bridge connecting the U.S. with Canada is due for replacement. Kathy McCarty met with Madawaska's town manager who says adding a recreational lane would benefit the economy on both sides of the border.

Officials from Madawaska, and Edmundston, New Brunswick, met Friday to discuss the potential economic benefits of incorporating a recreational trail lane into construction plans for the new bridge, which will replace the current one built in 1921.

"This is something that the communities asked for in our signing of our international bridge joint resolution back in January - January 23 I believe. It was a request that was made to our respective state agencies - MDOT, and in Canada NBDTI - that the new bridge have a recreational lane integrated into the designs."

The lane would provide access for such recreational vehicles as snowmobiles, ATVs and bicycles. Currently, folks using these modes of transportation use the same lanes as cars and trucks.

"That would facilitate the movement of those recreational uses, as opposed to what we have now with the old bridge which is not very functional, and it prevents people from crossing, so we're not able to take advantage of the recreational economy."

The new structure will be nearly a half mile long.

"The new bridge is going to be in place for likely a hundred years, just like the old one was, and that is really the only opportunity to get it right.To correct that deficiency right now is to incorporate that design to include the extra recreational lane."

Picard says the lane would only add slightly to the overall cost of the bridge, noting other lanes could be narrowed a bit to accommodate for the change. The recommendation has been passed along to officials with the Maine Department of Transportation and New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, who have the final say.