Drakes Island Road Bridge Replacement Project
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. Parnters 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.
Meetings and Community Input
- 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.
- The next meeting, which will include more specific information on a range of solutions for replacing the bridge, will take place early in 2023.
- 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 Kickoff April 2022
First Public Meeting July 2022
Second Public Meeting Early 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
Project Abutters Susan O’Connell
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