The Frank J. Wood Bridge has connected Topsham to Brunswick since the early 1930s, but the historic bridge at the end of Maine Street faces an uncertain future.

After a regularly scheduled inspection in June and a follow-up inspection in August, Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) engineers found the bridge’s structural steel was significantly deteriorated. As a result, they downgraded the condition of the bridge deck and superstructure from “fair” to “poor.”

Last month, the bridge across the Androscoggin River was branded with a posted limit of 25 tons, which prevents some commercial trucks from using it. Although MDOT recommended a full replacement of the bridge last April, neither MDOT nor the Federal Highway Administration has approved a definitive course of action. 

John Graham is one of several community members working to preserve the Frank J. Wood Bridge.

“At one time in the early 1900s, that kind of bridge, or truss bridge, was the most common bridge in Maine,” said Graham in a phone interview with the Orient. “We’re losing them at a drastic rate, so at some point there’s going to be none of them left. And if you’re going to keep one, this is a great setting to keep it [in].”

The bridge is both a historical relic and a local landmark and appears in the Brunswick town filter on Snapchat. 

“Historical structures create a sense of place, and a sense of place creates a sense of community and quickly identifies where you are in the world,” said Graham. “[The bridge] is one of the big defining characteristics of this town.”

Graham co-founded a Facebook page called “Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge” and serves as president of a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit group of the same name. He hopes to keep the public aware of the decision-making process. MDOT is required by law to present the public with all alternatives to replacement.

Graham added that the final decision for the preservation or replacement of the bridge is at least a year away.