The Casco Bay Bridge Opened 20 Years Ago
From 1916 to 1997, when you traveled between Portland and South Portland over the Fore River, you drove over the Million Dollar Bridge. It was so named because the cost to build it in the early 20th century was about a million dollars.
After 75 years of service it was clear that it needed to be replaced. While it continued to carry cars between the two cities, a new bridge began construction next to it. Its lift span would be higher, meaning it would need to open less frequently and it would have four lanes for traffic rather than two. Construction began in 1993 and took four years to complete and cost $130 million.
A committee met to vote on the name of the new bridge. The One Hundred Thirty Million Dollar Bridge didn’t have a good ring to it, so it was decided that it would be named the Casco Bay Bridge. It technically wasn’t in Casco Bay, but it did cross the Fore River that flows into the bay.
The bridge became a nightmare for drivers for the first few years as it did not like the cold weather in Maine. Ice and wind would often make gates and lift spans not function properly backing traffic up while engineers tried to fix the problems.
Twenty years later, malfunctions are less frequent and new technology including text alerts when the bridge is up have made it a much smoother ride.
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