The town has been cleared by the state to repair a section of the Powder Point Bridge with a carbon fiber wrapping,  announced Town Manager Richard MacDonald this week.

MacDonald said the town received permission for an emergency procurement from the state for the repairs. Three bids will be due next week to repair five specific areas underneath the bridge. Both piles and bents need to be fixed.

The repairs could begin within a month and once completed, the bridge should be able to be reopened to emergency vehicles with limited access for other vehicles,  said MacDonald. The traffic would be down to one-lane on part of the bridge, the same as it was before it was closed to traffic last month.

“If we didn’t take this action, we would be looking at a much longer shutdown,” said Selectman Shawn Dahlen.

Funding for the repairs will come from the $2.4 million town meeting approved to repair 160 severely deteriorated piles and address the issues with the cap beam connections, which are the cause of the bridge’s lowered load rating (from 15 tons to 8 tons). The repair will wrap the piles with carbon fiber, fill them with grout and epoxy, then tint them to blend into the color of the wooden bridge.

Dahlen said fixing this one area of the bridge will be a trial for the larger repair project.  The state Department of Transportation plans to re-inspect the bridge after the winter to see if the repair method has worked.