Heads up: Gorham bridge closing

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The Deguio Mill Bridge over the Little River on Gray Road (Route 202) is scheduled for new construction and both travel lanes will be shut down starting Monday, July 10.

The Deguio Mill Bridge over the Little River on Gray Road (Route 202) is scheduled for new construction and both travel lanes will be shut down starting Monday, July 10.

Showing its age, the 68-year old Deguio Mill Bridge on Route 202 in Gorham will undergo a rebuild starting July 10. Drivers are being advised of a detour route.

A $1.7 million state re-construction project will close the Deguio Mill Bridge on Route 202 in Gorham for three months beginning Monday, July 10. The decaying bridge over the Little River was built in 1949.

GORHAM — Drivers, dodging traffic snarls, will need to seek alternate routes starting Monday as a bridge rebuild shuts down a section of Gray Road for three months.

The Route 202 road closure will impact local residents, commuters, tourists visiting the Lakes Region and, in September, school buses.

The aging Deguio Mill Bridge, showing rust and results of the elements, crosses the Little River, a tributary of Presumpscot River. The bridge will be dismantled and rebuilt, with the new span costing the state $1.7 million.

“The bridge will be closed off to traffic and people will need to detour around it,” Town Manager David Cole said last week

The section of the highway leading to the bridge is scheduled to be closed beginning Monday, July 10, and drivers are being forewarned with digital signs about a detour. Cole expects bridge construction to run into October.

The deteriorating bridge, constructed in 1949, is a short distance from the roundabout in Little Falls, a town recreation area with fields and courts, and also the Little Falls Activity Center on Acorn Street. The foundation of the bridge dates to 1893; the rebuilt structure will have new abutments.

The replacement bridge will be 28 feet wide and 130 feet in length, more than doubling the 60-foot span of the existing bridge. Wyman & Simpson Inc. of Richmond is the contractor.

A busy route, an estimated 5,000 cars daily cross the Deguio Mill Bridge. Construction will re-route traffic and likely revamp previous school bus routes when classes resume after the summer break.

“It’ll be a minor inconvenience for us,” Norm Justice, transportation director for Gorham schools, said Wednesday.

Closure of that section of the state highway will detour traffic onto Mosher Road (Route 237) between the roundabout in Little Falls and lower Main Street. Mosher and Gray roads along with lower Main Street are classified as arterials and heavily used by commuters.

Residents on Queen Street, classified as a rural collector road that intersects with routes 202 and 237, are likely to experience an increase in traffic through their neighborhood.

Tourists traveling southbound on Route 202 from Windham, destined to visit the Little River Preserve walking trail, owned and maintained by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust with a trailhead on Gray Road, will be among those detoured.

Construction shuts down vehicle access to a popular fishing hole near the bridge, but fishing along with canoe and kayak access to the Little River is available at the land trust’s St. Pierre Preserve on Mosher Road.

Little River is woven into history of the town. The bridge was named for Joseph Deguio, who in the 1800s had a mill adjacent to the site, according to “McLellan’s History of Gorham.”

In 1736, Capt. John Phinney paddled a canoe up the Little River through the wild as the town’s first settler.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or rlowell@keepmecurrent.com