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Two Projects in Maine Win Regional America’s Transportation Awards

by: Jessica Hoover
Gardiner Downtown Bridges and Trail
Gardiner Downtown Bridges and Trail
Grist Mill Bridge Replacement Project
Grist Mill Bridge Replacement Project
Two Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) projects won regional awards in the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards competition, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The competition recognizes state DOTs for making a difference in their community, with each project falling into one of three categories: Operations Excellence, Best Use of Technology & Innovation, and Quality of Life/Community Development.

“State DOTs are overwhelmingly focused on innovative solutions to address the transportation issues of today and tomorrow, meeting challenges involving climate change, equity, resiliency, and safety,” said Jim Tymon, Executive Director of AASHTO. “The America’s Transportation Awards program shows just how they’re doing that. Whether on foot, in a vehicle, on two wheels, or by rail or transit, state DOTs are continuing to advance a safe, multimodal transportation system.”

Eighteen projects in the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials (NASTO) region were nominated by seven states and the District of Columbia for this year’s competition. The following two projects in the New England Construction area were winners of the regional America’s Transportation Awards.

Gardiner Downtown Bridges and Trail (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small Category)
This project won in the Quality of Life/Community Development category, which honors projects that better connect people to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. MaineDOT saw a need for improvement to the active transportation infrastructure of the City of Gardiner, Maine, where many residents rely on getting around on two wheels or on foot.

Prior to the completion of the project, Gardiner had aging pedestrian corridors, bridges in need of replacement, outdated or absent safety features, a lack of ADA-compliant pathways, and a shortage of multimodal corridors.

To increase the connectivity and pedestrian accessibility of the community while reducing the total impact to the city, MaineDOT combined several smaller projects into one $12.5-million package. The projects included the construction of two highway bridges, a connecting roadway, two intersections, numerous small sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, and a trail extension that also included a pedestrian bridge.

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“The benefit to the community is that they had a lot of infrastructure upgraded and placed in a short period of time,” said Wayne Frankhauser, Bridge Program Manager. “It certainly gave the town a great opportunity to work with us and plan the project and plan what the bridges would look like, what the projects would look like, what the traffic impacts would be, what the timing would be. So it was a really great opportunity from that standpoint that we were able to wrap all of those different components and parts and pieces for a major project.”

Grist Mill Bridge Replacement Project (Best Use of Technology and Innovation, Small Category)
This project won in the Best Use of Technology and Innovation category, which recognizes new technology and/or innovative solutions implemented by a state DOT as part of a transportation project. The Grist Mill Bridge in Hampden, Maine, had already been rehabilitated three times since 1930, so MaineDOT recently replaced it with innovative bridge technology that is designed to last more than 100 years and will require little to no maintenance over its lifetime.

The 75-foot-long, single-span bridge was the first in the nation to use fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) tub-girders. These composite girders are a lightweight, sustainable, low-cost alternative that were easier for MaineDOT to fabricate, ship, install, and maintain over time.

The composite girders — developed at the University of Maine and manufactured by Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT) Bridges — weigh as little as a quarter of the weight of steel girders. They are so lightweight that the contractor for the $9-million project could pre-assemble modules consisting of two girders with all utilities and attachments, that could then be lifted into place in one pick using smaller equipment.

“This was a good partnership between MaineDOT and the University of Maine and AIT Bridges,” Frankhauser said. “We came together to test and design and manufacture the composite girders. … This is the kind of long-term, almost zero maintenance structure that we’ve strived for for a long time.”

Next Phase of the Competition
The three highest-scoring projects from each regional America’s Transportation Awards competition (a total of 12 projects) will continue on to compete for the national Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award. The 12 finalists will be announced and online voting for the People’s Choice Award will begin in September. In October, AASHTO will reveal the winners for the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award at its 2022 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.
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