Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) has been awarded $36 million toward the replacement of the Madawaska International Bridge that connects Madawaska, Maine, with Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called Senator Collins this afternoon to notify her of the approval of this grant, for which Senator Collins strongly advocated. The funding was awarded through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Program, which leverages federal grants to help communities invest in high-priority projects to fix crumbling infrastructure. Last year, only 26 projects across the country were chosen for this highly selective program. Senator Collins has championed funding for INFRA as Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.
“The Madawaska International Bridge is a crucial link between Madawaska and Edmundston,” said Senator Collins. “When I was in The County this past weekend, I saw many signs warning people of the bridge’s temporary closures and the posted weight limit, underscoring the seriousness of this situation.”
“Madawaska residents and businesses are already contending with the severe consequences of this deteriorating structure. Twin Rivers Paper Company, the largest employer in Northern Maine, relies on this bridge to transport raw materials and finished goods between its facilities on both sides of the river. Since 2017, however, it has had to reroute large trucks through Van Buren, adding up to 75 miles and nearly two hours of travel time roundtrip as well as incurring millions of dollars in increased transportation costs,” Senator Collins continued. “Improving the safety, efficiency, and reliability of transportation infrastructure throughout Maine is one of my top priorities, and I am pleased that this funding will allow this vital replacement project to move forward.”
“We are very grateful to Senator Collins for helping to secure funding to replace this critical piece of infrastructure,” said MaineDOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note. “This award represents a significant leap forward in our work to build a new, more-modern link between Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick. We look forward to continuing to partner with federal officials from both the U.S. and Canada as we work to make sure people and goods can move quickly and safely between these two border communities.”
The Madawaska International Bridge was deemed fracture critical (poor condition) in October 2017 and has been posted with a five ton weight limit ever since. This week, MaineDOT announced that all lanes of the bridge will be closed from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. from July 22-27 and July 29-30 to allow an engineering firm to conduct a thorough safety inspection of the structure. The bridge’s deteriorating condition has proved detrimental to the communities served by this crucial connector, hindering the ability of businesses in the region to operate at full capacity.
The total cost of the replacement of the Madawaska International Bridge is estimated at $73.5 million with the remaining funding coming from MaineDOT and the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.