Constructed in 1928, Bailey Island Bridge is a granite crib bridge, the only one of its kind in America. The bridge consists of 175 granite slabs laid up into cribs that rest on the natural rock shelf below. The granite slabs are dry laid with no mortar. Not only is the bridge a National Register-listed property, it is also a National American Society of Civil Engineering landmark.
Changes to the bridge included the addition of a sidewalk in 1951 and a guardrail in 1962. In 2000, after decades of inspections and continuous maintenance, officials determined that the Bailey Island Bridge required major repairs. The possibility of replacement was also reviewed. In 2004, a feasibility study was completed to determine the best approach. The MaineDOT completed a preliminary design report in 2007.
After officials concluded that modest traffic volume would permit rehabilitation and restoration—instead of replacement, the Maine Historic Preservation Commission provided input on preliminary designs. The commission then requested that MaineDOT involve The Dry Stone Conservancy, for its expertise in dry stone masonry.
During the design phase, existing conditions had to be considered. The cribstone structure had missing stones, shifted stones, cantilevered stones and fractured stones, all of which all needed attention during the rehabilitation. MaineDOT was committed to maintaining the unique granite substructure in accordance with the historic bridge management plan. MDOT sought to replace as few stones as necessary and to match them with granite from the original quarry, or to provide the closest match possible.
The rehabilitation effort initiated in 2008 and completed in 2011 resulted in the preservation of this unique bridge. This project preserved a truly one-of-a-kind treasure for future generations.
For their outstanding efforts on this irreplaceable Maine resource, Maine Preservation is pleased to present the Maine Department of Transportation and its Bailey Island Bridge project team with a 2014 Honor Award for Restoration.