This bridge is one of only three known examples of continuous trusses in Maine that display the appearance of a very long simple span truss supported by piers. In this design, the truss has no "cantilever truss shape." Continuous trusses of this design are also extremely rare nationwide. Each of Maine's three examples of this design are distinctly unique, each employing different truss arrangements. Despite that fact, all three were built at around the same time. It is unknown why there is such a variance in design. The other two bridges are the West Buxton Bridge and the Lisbon Falls Bridge. Because each bridge is rare, both in Maine and nationwide, and given the unique appearance of each, the preservation of each example should be given a high priority.
The Bar Mills Bridge is noted for its top chord, which remains parallel to the bottom chord throughout its length, making the bridge a trapezoidal truss, unusual for a bridge of this length. The bridge appears to retain excellent historic integrity with no significant alterations noted. The bridge was built as a World War I memorial bridge, and a memorial plaque is located separate of the bridge a short distance east of the bridge. Immediately west of the bridge, the Bar Mills Canal Bridge, a single span simple through truss is present.
Despite the bridge's relatively good condition, MaineDOT is attempting to develop a project to demolish and replace this historic bridge. Fortunately, this attempt has triggered a Section 106 review process to consider alternatives to destroying the historic bridge. It is hoped that the Section 106 process will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner, and reveal an alternative that avoids adverse effect to the historic bridge. The reality is that the bridge is in decent condition, with no severe deterioration noted, even on the bottom chord, where deterioration is usually the worst. Some areas of deterioration noted, such as isolated areas of complete section loss on the bottom chord, could be easily corrected by replacing the lacing bars that exhibit the section loss. Even the National Bridge Inventory sufficiency rating, which usually far underestimates the rehabilitation potential of a historic truss bridge, rates the bridge at 48.6% as of 2011, a mere 1.4 percentage points into the zone where federal demolition and replacement funds become available. Additionally, it is not apparent that the bridge would need to be replaced to accommodate trucks or more heavy traffic. Located a mere mile south of this bridge is the US-202 bridge. This bridge and highway is designed to accommodate heavy traffic, and it connects to the same roads as ME-4A. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that maintaining the Bar Mills Bridge for light, local traffic is the best use of tax dollars.
Information and Findings From Maine's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
"The 1937, continuous, riveted, Warren thru truss bridge is technologically significant as an early application of the continuous design. The first examples in Maine were for replacements of bridges lost in the March, 1936 flood. This is one of 25 bridges built by MSHC to replace lost bridges, and it is one of 3 continuous-design Warren truss bridges built by the commission in 1936-37 as flood replacement bridges. All three early examples, including #3340 and #3334, are historically and technologically significant. The significance of the bridge is linked to the continuous design. The bridge is judged to have average preservation priority because an example of a bridge type that is considered common in the state."
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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