In 2007, life handed South Berwick some good-sized lemons. The State closed the bridge on Vine Street due to deterioration and deemed it too expensive to replace.
Making Lemonade—South Berwick Style
With neighborhoods divided, recreational routes interrupted, and a new attractive nuisance to manage, a small band of residents decided to make some lemonade. In the dining room of the Benjamin Chadbourne House—where many great ideas for our community have been hatched—they began to talk about a timber-frame bridge to replace the condemned eyesore. That conversation begat many more, the group grew larger, and by 2016, the so-called "Great Works Bridge Brigade" (GWBB) was actively exploring the feasibility of a new bridge to suit the needs and character our community.
On January 10, 2017, the Town Council unanimously agreed to collaborate with the GWBB to help turn our vision into timber framed reality. This endorsement could not have come too soon. The State of Maine plans to remove the existing bridge in 2018, leaving the abutments and access barriers at each end of the dam to the town. By acting now, we have the opportunity to work with the State to leverage the removal project in a way that truly benefits South Berwick and the region.
This bridge can only be built with many hands and hearts. From fundraising and community outreach to grants research and communications, there is room and need for everyone’s talents, interests, and—most of all—energy. Our goal is to engage as many community members as we can to build this bridge. We welcome questions, ideas, and volunteers! Please contact us.
progress We've Made
- Engaged stakeholders, including town offices, Maine Department of Transportation, Kruger Energy, Eastern Trail, residents, and legislative representatives.
- Conducted preliminary research on the bridge site, engineering questions, historic bridge designs, costs, and funding sources.
- With generous contributions from residents, engaged a nationally-regarded timber framing engineer and contractor to develop design schematics.
- Identified a State Funding Program that could provide $400,000 toward our $1 million goal.
- Developed a collaborative structure and brand identity for our project so that all interested citizens can learn about and join the brigade.
- Teamed up with Sobo Central to create a home for this collaboration so we can raise funds and grow the brigade.
- Raised $22,000 just from the brigade "pioneers."