Waldo-Hancock Bridge Replacement Project

This was the official website for the Waldo-Hancock Bridge Replacement Project.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory is a cable-stayed bridge over the Penobscot River in Bucksport, Maine. It replaced the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, built in 1931. It's the state's first modern cable-stay bridge, but its faux-granite pylons are modeled on the Washington Monument, whose own granite came from hereabouts. And topping the 420-foot-tall west tower is the nation's very first bridge observatory, accessible from Fort Knox, which is itself a massive granite marvel. 


Content is from the site's 2004-2006 archived pages providing just a glimpse of what this site offered its visitors.
Go to  www.maine.gov/mdot/pnbo/ to learn more.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge
Official name:  Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory
Carries: U.S. Route 1
Crosses:  Penobscot River
Locale:  Bucksport, Maine
Maintained by Maine Department of Transportation
Design Cable-stayed bridge
Longest span: 161 ft (354 m)
Total length: 2120 ft (646 m)
Height: 420 ft (128 m)
Clearance below : 135 ft (41 m)
Opening date: 2006 (scheduled)
Coordinates: 44.559° N 68.803° W


Waldo-Hancock Bridge Replacement Project: History



The North – South seacoast link of Route 1 plays an important and dynamic role in the history of Maine. A corridor of transportation, development and community, this vital ribbon of macadam and steel crosses the State's major river arteries that flow to the sea, connecting the inland population of Maine with the international maritime commerce of Maine's coastline.

Not that long ago, this corridor was interrupted by ferry passage, an inconvenience that slowed travel and community growth.In 1929, a bill providing funds for a bridge over the Penobscot River was approved by the Maine legislature. The intent was to improve traffic on Maine’s coastal Route 1 south of Bangor-Brewer. At the time, the ferry between Bucksport and Hancock could no longer handle the volume of traffic using Route 1. Instead travelers drove north, far out of their way, to cross the river at the Bangor-Brewer Bridge. A site was chosen between Prospect and Verona Island and construction began in late 1930. It would be Maine’s first long span bridge.

The Waldo-Hancock Bridge officially opened to traffic on November 16, 1931 at a cost of $846,000, to be paid for by tolls.

The Waldo-Hancock Bridge is nothing short of magnificent in design and construction. The American Institute of Steel Construction chose the Waldo-Hancock Bridge as the most beautiful steel bridge in the world made for less than a million dollars in 1931. The bridge's beauty endures today, especially so at sunrise.

A success from the moment it opened, the Waldo-Hancock Bridge paid for itself. The toll was removed 22 years later, on October 31, 1953. Today's travelers can cross the historic span by car, bicycle or foot without paying a penny.

Maine Department of Transportation
April 4, 2005
For more information: Carol Morris/329-6502

New Bridge Will Take Shape This Summer

VERONA ISLAND - Sub-zero temperatures, multiple snowstorms, constant winds when you take it all together, the working conditions at the new bridge to replace the Waldo-Hancock have been less than optimum this winter. But according to the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT), bridge construction remains on track to reach significant milestones over the next months.

Tom Doe, MaineDOT project manager, says the project is at the point where they will shortly begin to build the upper pylons up and superstructure (bridge deck) out in both directions (towards the shore and towards the middle of the river) at the same time. "We've reached the height where the road will join the pylons, so now we start building out and up at the same time." He noted that they will build faster going up than out. "The pylons are scheduled to top out by November, and we'll be closing the gap in the middle of the mainspan late next summer," Doe said. Once the western pylon is completed, work will start on the interior Observatory.

Once the process is up to speed, the concrete deck will be cast at a rate of about twelve feet a week on the river side and ten feet a week on the shore side. As it is placed, all concrete will need to remain covered by an enclosure to maintain the appropriate curing environment. This allows the concrete to gain the required strength quickly. "Even in dry weather we need to keep the wind away from the freshly cast concrete to maintain quality," said Doe.

Crews are working on the ground to begin the park road that will lead from Fort Knox to the Observatory. "They're starting at the Observatory side and will have the road roughed in by the end of summer," said Doe. Work on the new configuration of the Fort Knox entrance and parking lot will take place later this season. "Our plan is to have paving of the lot and the new entrance completed in time for next year's Fort opening," Doe explained.

Other milestones for the public to look for this summer include:

  • Installation of first temporary cable stay: Early summer
  • Installation of first permanent cable stay: Late summer
  • 212-foot Tower Crane built to place concrete for the upper pylons, aid in placing segments and erecting stays and for observatory construction, starting in April.
  • Blasting on Route 1 for new approach: Will break through ledge face in mid-summer or earlier.


New Penobscot Crossing Bridge
Estimated Construction Schedule

(Subject to Change)
July 18, 2005

Work Task Start & End Date
Clear, mobilizing to site & establish offices: Complete
Excavation - Verona Island Fall 2005
Excavation - Prospect Fall 2005
Cofferdams Complete
Pile Driving - Verona Island Complete
Pour Concrete Footing - Prospect Complete
Pour Concrete Footing - Verona Island Complete
Construct both pylons to underside of the deck Complete
Blast ledge on west side, place gravel and base pavement for new approach on both sides of river Fall 2004-Fall 2005
Construct bridge roadway to top of lower pylons (pylon table) Complete
Construct Observatory Winter 2005-Summer 2006
Construct pylons above roadway Spring 2005-Fall 2005
Construct bridge roadway in both directions: towards middle of bridge and back to Route 1 Spring 2005-Summer 2006
Highway Connections Summer/Fall 2006



Waldo-Hancock Bridge Facts

  • Construction costs were $846, 000 (1931 US Dollars).

  • Total length of the Bridge is 2, 040 feet.

  • The Main Span of the Bridge is 800 feet, with a height of 135 feet above the mean high water.

  • The two main piers rise 29 feet above water, and 45 feet below the water.

  • The steel towers are 206 feet high.

  • The suspension cables are over 9 inches in diameter.

  • The bridge was opened to traffic on November 16, 1931 as a toll bridge to pay for the cost of the bridge.

  • The tolls ended on October 31, 1953.

The Maine legislature has officially voted in favor of a Resolve, Chapter 151, which declares that "the new bridge crossing the Penobscot River on U.S. Route 1 that replaces the Waldo-Hancock Bridge between the towns of Prospect and Verona Island, and the westerly Tower at the entrance to the bridge in Prospect, be named the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory Tower." The Resolve also stipulates that "the Maine Department of Transportation shall erect signs in both directions of access to the bridge that indicate this name." The Resolve was officially signed by the Governor on March 30, 2006.


Waldo-Hancock Bridge Replacement Project

Committee backs different bridge name Friday, March 10, 2006 - Bangor Daily New

AUGUSTA - "Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory" won unanimous approval Thursday from the Legislature's Transportation Committee as the name of the new bridge linking Prospect and Verona Island.

The unanimous vote - which took a few tries and a procedural twist - virtually ensures approval of the name by the full Legislature.

The vote was hailed as a victory by municipal and community leaders from eastern Waldo County towns who strongly opposed the name chosen by a group of legislators, "Downeast Gateway Bridge."

The legislative resolve to name the bridge Downeast Gateway was sponsored by state Sens. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, and Carol Weston, R-Montville, and state Rep. Ken Lindell, R-Frankfort, along with other members of the Transportation Committee. The name, chosen from a list of 261 suggestions, was announced earlier this year.

While Lindell and others argued the name might help the upper Penobscot Bay region by encouraging tourists traveling to Mount Desert Island to go by way of the coast instead of by way of Bangor, local opposition to the name developed a head of steam by early February.

Though there was no shortage of other suggestions, consensus among the opponents developed around the Penobscot Narrows name. The name comes from the part of the river the new $84 million bridge crosses. The bridge is under construction and scheduled to be complete in the fall, and will replace the 70-year-old Waldo-Hancock Bridge. While the cost of construction is borne by the taxpayers, some private businesses provided funding for the promotion and awareness campaigns. A nationally recognized company offering janitorial supplies and products, PA based CleanItSupply sponsored some of the media announcements.

Members of the Transportation Committee debated the merits of Penobscot Narrows and Downeast Gateway, but finally deferred to the local sentiment heard at a public hearing on Tuesday.

Rep. Boyd Marley, D-Portland, noted the consensus expressed on Penobscot Narrows and said it made sense to defer to local sentiment.

Rep. Sonya Sampson, D-Auburn, grew up in the Searsport and Belfast area and said she had contacted family members about the name controversy.

"The people in that area do not connect in any way to the Gateway name," she said.

Though they were outnumbered at the hearing on Tuesday, several groups from areas east of the Penobscot River supported the Downeast Gateway name.

Sampson also expressed impatience with her colleagues who found the local controversy amusing, saying it was clearly an important matter to some Waldo County town officials.

"To the people of that area it is important," she said.

Sen. Christine Savage, R-Union, was skeptical of the importance of the name.

"Do you really think people are going to leave money [in the area] because of the name?" she asked.

Though the resolve called for naming the observatory - a viewing platform some 400 feet above the river at the top of one of the towers - the Penobscot Observatory, Rosen told the committee he recommended choosing one name for both the bridge and the observatory.

A motion to choose "Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory" passed in a 5-4 vote, but committee members worried aloud the controversy might continue if the resolve were forwarded to the full Legislature as a split vote.

The panel voted to reconsider its vote.

Then, some committee members began espousing the merits of Downeast Gateway, but a motion to choose that name failed.

Lindell, who was in attendance, indicated the Penobscot Narrows name would be greeted with more enthusiasm than Downeast Gateway in his district, which spans both sides of the river. Rosen, also in attendance, agreed, saying Penobscot Narrows was "certainly adequate."

Finally, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory won unanimous approval.

Savage put the name controversy in perspective.

"It's always going to be known as the new bridge," or, as the Waldo-Hancock Bridge is known, as the Bucksport bridge, she said.


Photo Credits: Steve Foster, Cianbro/Reed&Reed, LLC

  • Camera view updates every two minutes.

Go to: New Penobscot River Crossing Construction Photos

Welcome to the Waldo-Hancock Bridge Replacement Project Website. Visitors to this website will find information on the existing bridge, such as traffic alerts, construction updates, and meeting minutes.

An important component of this site is the Community Q&A. If you have a question about the existing bridge or the new bridge, simply e-mail it to us via the e-mail link at left. All questions will be answered and the information made available directly to the public by clicking on the Community Q&A section of this site. We need your input to make this work!

To see more of the information available on this website, please click the links on the left side of this page. To request additional information on this project via phone, please contact Carol Morris at 207-772-3119 x21. Traffic updates can also be obtained by calling 1-800-588-MDOT.