Drakes Island Road Bridge Replacement Project

Drakes Island Road Bridge

The Bridge

The Drakes Island Road Bridge is 84 years old and is nearing the end of its useful life. 

The Town of Wells has hired an engineering firm to help the community determine what the replacement for this bridge could look like. Partners for this project will include the Drakes Island Community, US Fish & Wildlife, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Wells Reserve, and Maine DEP, among others. 

The Town's goal is to create a strong program to protect the surrounding river and marsh environment - and of course, to provide a better long-term connection to Drakes Island for the community. 

Project Updates

Two proposed designs for the replacement of the Drakes Island Road Bridge were presented at a public meeting on Tuesday May 23, 2023 at 6 pm at the Wells Town Office.

CMA Engineers presented two different design alternatives, along with an analysis of the effects of doing nothing. This "No-Build" analysis is always created for an engineering project to provide a benchmark situation against which to compare the build alternatives.

Contact Us

  1. Drakes Island Road Bridge Replacement Committee

    Email the Committee

    208 Sanford Road
    Wells, ME 04090


Meetings and Community Input

May 23, 2023 Public Meeting

  • A public informational meeting, open to the Town, took place on Tuesday, May 23 at 6PM at the Wells Town Office and online via Zoom. Two proposed designs for the replacement of the Drakes Island Road Bridge were presented at a public meeting. 
  • You can view the meeting report here and watch the meeting on YouTube here. The PowerPoint presentation is available here

July 27, 2022 Public Meeting

  • A public informational meeting, open to the entire Town, took place Wednesday, July 27 at 6PM at the Wells Town Office and online via Zoom. The meeting included an overview of the bridge planning and design process and timing, as wells as information about the engineering challenges of replacing the bridge. There were multiple questions and comments from the audience.
  • You can read the meeting report here and watch it on YouTube here. The PowerPoint presentation is available here.
  • Email the committee at the link in the upper left of this page if you would like to receive meeting updates.

Engineering and Environmental Considerations

Bridge Status: The Drakes Island Bridge was originally constructed in 1938 and consists of a 14-foot span bridge with a timber deck and timber substructure elements. At 84 years old, the bridge has significantly passed its service life expectancy and is showing signs of significant deterioration. 

Environmental Resources: The Drakes Island Bridge and the approach roadway to the east and west are all abutted by tidal wetlands. The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge has property abutting the project site to the north and south. 

To preserve and improve the surrounding environmental resources, several critical engineering tasks are being performed. The project team is conducting rigorous environmental permitting coordination, detailed hydrologic and hydraulic evaluation of the existing and proposed conditions, and evaluating project alternatives and their associated environmental impacts. 

Sea Level Rise: Drakes Island Road and the bridge crossing along it serve as the sole means of access to the island community on Drakes Island. The replacement of this crossing represents a significant investment by the Town in terms of funding, time, and construction related coordination within the community. Therefore, it is imperative that the structure and approach roadway are designed based on a selected set of criteria that meet current and future needs and conditions. With this structure being located within a tidal zone, one of the most impactful criteria is the potential for sea level rise. 

To accomplish the objective of reasonably protecting against future sea level rise, the option of increasing the elevation of the bridge and roadway is being evaluated. Part of this evaluation is determining what an appropriate change in sea level is for planning and design purposes. Addressing this now, while the new bridge structure is being designed will help reduce the chance of future modifications being required at this site during the service life of the new bridge. This will also help ensure the continued uninterrupted access to the island, for both the community located there, and visitors to the island.

Project Schedule

Project Kickoff                         April 2022

First Public Meeting                July 2022

Second Public Meeting           May, 2023

Engineering Study Complete  March 2023

Preliminary Design                 2023

Final Design                             2024

Project Construction               Late 2024 – Early 2025

About Drakes Island

John Ardini and Susan O’Connell, Drakes Island residents, are part of the communication planning group and have helped represent initial concerns of the Drakes Island community and project abutters. 

 Here are some facts about the Island:


  • Approximately 280 homes – no commercial development
  • Transitioning from primarily a summer to year-round community
  • Approximately 80 full-time residences – mostly seniors
  • Many homes occupied part time through out the year 
  • Over 250 Town public beach parking spaces 
  • Heavy seasonal traffic
  • Surrounded by Rachael Carson National Wildlife Refuge and other protected land 
  • Active community organization: Drakes Island Improvement Association
  • Residents concerned about preserving the community character and environment

Project Stakeholders, Representatives and Design Team

Town of Wells                                                                               Carol Murray

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services &                                                      Ryan Kleinert

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve                                 Jacob Aman

Drakes Island Community Representatives                                  John Ardini

                                                                                                      Susan O’Connell

Project Abutters                                                                            Susan O’Connell

                                                                                                      Bill Dinardo

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers                                                       Colin Greenan 

Lead Engineering Firm                                                                  CMA Engineers, Inc.

Environmental Permitting, Geotechnical Exploration / Analysis,                        

and Hydraulics                                                                              GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.

Surveying                                                                                      Doucet Survey, LLC

Public Outreach                                                                            Morris Communications