The Penobscot Narrows Bridge has been reopened. It was closed Sunday by the Maine Department of Transportation after ice began falling off the bridge and damaging vehicles.
Witnesses said it was like a scene from a movie. On Sunday, giant slabs of ice fell off the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and pounded cars passing by. Joyce Taylor, Chief Engineer at the Maine Department of Transportation, says in the eight years the bridge has been open, they have had issues with ice accumulation, but nothing like this.
“We’ve had other events where ice has formed and it dropped in the median. But what happened here, it was just such a thick coating ice when it started to let go it let go in sheets. And they were literally kind of landing and scatter shotting and just pelleting vehicles,” Taylor said Tuesday.
They’ve had marginal success knocking the ice down with cranes and Taylor says this weekend could bring warm enough temperatures to allow those efforts to continue. A good amount of rainfall could take care of the remaining ice on its own. For now, the bridge remains open, but it’s under the watchful eyes of the folks at the Maine DOT.
“In the meantime, we are monitoring the bridge,” Taylor said. “In particular high wind situations. We want to know what’s going on with the ice. So we’re keeping an eye on it. We haven’t just walked away until the temperatures warm up.”
While they’re working to solve the current problem, Taylor says they’re also looking at ways of preventing this from happening in the future.
“We have a dry air system and we’re looking at. Can we super-heat those cables if we have an event we know is coming like this in the future? We’ve talked to other folks around the country. People have designed these choke systems that they can run up and down the cables. There’s some coatings that you can do.”