AUGUSTA, Maine (GNB) – The construction contract for the new Edmundston-Madawaska International Bridge project has been awarded to Reed & Reed Inc. of Woolwich, Maine. This bridge will replace the current structure that connects Edmundston and Madawaska.

The current bridge is 100 years old and approaching the end of its useful life. The bridge deck and superstructure are in poor condition and show signs of advanced deterioration. Since October 2017, the international bridge has had a five-ton weight limit, creating a detour.

“This international bridge is more than just a piece of infrastructure: it is an important link that brings communities and countries together,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jill Green. “This project will contribute to our priority of energizing the private sector by facilitating the movement of people and goods. This will allow our businesses to remain competitive while fostering economic growth in the region.”

The new bridge will be constructed on a new alignment. It will cross the Saint John River at about a 45-degree angle and will be located about 420 metres (1,400 ft.) upstream from the existing bridge. Because of this new alignment, the new structure will be nearly twice the length of the existing one. The new bridge will feature wider travel lanes and added shoulders on both sides. There will also be a raised sidewalk on the downstream side. The bridge will be constructed using steel girders supported on concrete substructures and is designed to last 100 years.

Maine’s Department of Transportation is leading this project and awarded the construction contract. They advertised the contract for bids on Dec. 23, 2020 and opened bids on Feb. 24. Three contractors had been pre-qualified to bid on the project and two submitted bids. One of the pre-qualified companies was from New Brunswick, but they did not submit a bid. The low bidder was Reed & Reed, with a bid of $86,532,251. This bid results in a total project cost increase of about $10.9 million more than previous estimates. Due to the size and complexity of this multi-year project, the governments of both Maine and New Brunswick have agreed to award the contract.

“The year-long challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare the importance of the connections between Maine and Canada,” said Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note. “We are eager to move forward with this project to greatly improve one of these vital connection points. This new bridge will improve safety and support economic activities on both sides of the international border.”

In 2019, the project received a $36-million USD Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. The U.S. Department of Transportation has authorized an additional amount of $15.7 million USD towards Maine’s Department of Transportation capital budget. This funding will be used to cover the cost overages on the international bridge project. The remaining costs are being shared by the Maine and New Brunswick departments of transportation.

Construction work is expected to begin in April. The opening of the new bridge to traffic is anticipated by the end of 2023. Demolition of the old bridge is scheduled to begin once traffic is moved onto the new bridge. The estimated final completion date of the project is June 30, 2025.

“Reed & Reed is pleased to be rebuilding this critical link between families, communities and nations,” said company CEO Jackson Parker. “We will be looking to hire locally as much as possible. We have a long history of building bridges for Maine’s Department of Transportation, beginning in 1928 with a $1,676 contract to replace a bridge in Hermon. We are excited to begin work on this project.”