Maine’s New Madawaska Bridge to Canada Opens

$97.5 Million Structure Replaces Century-Old Bridge
Madawaska bridge
The new Madawaska bridge, shown in March, opened in June. (U.S. General Services Administration)

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A new bridge and land port of entry between Maine and Canada has opened, the culmination of a $97.5 million project to build a larger structure to replace a 104-year-old span.

The Madawaska bridge linking to Edmundston, Canada, was constructed on a new alignment over the St. John River, about 1,400 feet upstream from the old location on the U.S. side. Because of this new alignment, the structure is almost twice as long as the old one.

The complex project was a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Canada, with involvement from the U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection) as well as the Maine Department of Transportation.

The bridge opening largely ends major construction on the three-year effort, but some finish work will stretch into next year. The project was aided by a $36 million U.S. Federal Highway Administration grant awarded in 2019. The remaining costs were shared by MaineDOT and the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI).

The Madawaska bridge on the U.S. side is connected to the existing New Brunswick port facility on the Canadian side. The new bridge, featuring steel girders and designed to last a century, features wider travel lanes and shoulders on both sides. The old bridge was built in 1920 and deterioration has left it in poor condition.

On the U.S. side of the new bridge GSA has been building a new land port of entry. MaineDOT is managing that project with support from New Brunswick DTI, in coordination with federal agencies from both the U.S. and Canada. In parallel with the bridge project, DTI is making upgrades to the Canada Border Service Agency facilities at the land port of entry.

Madawaska bridge map

(Maine Department of Transportation)

A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told Transport Topics that the new land port of entry has been equipped with one oversized lane to accommodate trucks. About 16,260 trucks traveling southbound into the U.S. are processed there yearly, according to GSA.

“Madawaska is a permit port. At this time there are no plans for it to be designated as a commercial port. The majority of trucks encountered at Madawaska are local in nature. When considering the highway infrastructure, it is less efficient to travel through Madawaska to reach other points. Commercial [Maine] ports such as Van Buren and Houlton provide better logistics in terms of access to existing highways systems,” the spokesperson added.

According to a GSA website with project information for the Madawaska bridge, the land port of entry has been designed to accommodate non-intrusive inspection equipment and “will remain a permit port with sufficient space in the design to accommodate possible change in the designation to become a commercial port.”

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