The history of the Lanes Island Bridge spans the history of Vinalhaven from the island’s first settlers, to the fishing and granite industries, to the beginnings of the tourist industry and the birth of the land conservation movement in the community. In 1992, the Maine State Planning Office ranked Indian Creek and the Lane's Island Bridge as one of the most important scenic resources in the Penobscot Bay region. From its origins in the 1800s as a wooden drawbridge for stone boats, to its current use as one of the most popular walking routes on the island, the bridge is, and has been, a gateway to industry and recreation.
Its story is the story of Vinalhaven.
The Maine DOT has determined that the existing Lane's Island bridge is in need of repair and upgrading to ensure safety and longer use. The Maine DOT team came to the island in June 2017 to present their initial plans and request feedback from residents. A number of Vinalhaven residents expressed concerns about impacting the historic and scenic character of the existing bridge.
Since then, the Maine DOT has been conducting technical studies and has now produced a Preliminary Design Report (PDR) that will guide the final design. The PDR is available here, and will also be posted on the Town website.
Their engineers have studied alternatives, and are now proposing to repair the existing granite substructure with grout and pins, repair joints on the bridge span, and replace the failed cable railing with steel highway guard rails along the two approaches. The current curving roadway approaches would be retained, as would the existing granite piers. This technical approach is designed to stabilize the existing structure and extend the bridge's life for another 10-15 years, and will result in significant cost savings versus a complete bridge replacement.
The PDR report is extremely important to review carefully and comment upon. It serves as the guiding document from the consulting engineers that summarizes all of the studies and constraints, and will significantly influence the final design.
Final design and construction still scheduled for 2019.
Because of its value as a historic and scenic resource to the Town, it is critically important for the community to continue to offer comments, concerns, and suggestions to the Maine DOT design team as they finalize their designs and move ahead into the construction phase in late 2019.
The Preliminary Design Report (PDR) released late in 2018, incorporated many of the suggestions and requests from community members. Please continue to monitor this website and other sources of information as the project continues.
The Town of Vinalhaven maintains a project page here.
You can also view information and participate in online discussions on the Lanes Island Bridge Facebook group.
Did you know the first Lane's Island Bridge was a wooden structure built by Captain Lane in the mid-1800s? Or that the subsequent granite cribstone bridge included a drawbridge to allow granite-carrying barges from the East Boston Quarry to pass down Indian Creek to Carver's Harbor?
The Maine DOT presented three conceptual designs in June 2017. Each involved removing the existing granite cribwork and installing concrete abutments, with steel beams spanning nearly the entire width of Indian Creek. See the designs for yourself.
The Maine DOT replaces bridges as part of their highway program. In some cases, an existing bridge has historical aspects that are rehabilitated, as with the Bailey Island cribstone bridge in Harpswell. In other cases, they remove and replace older bridges with modern highway bridges, like the Pulpit Harbor bridge on North Haven (above).
The Maine DOT is required to share information about bridge projects with the public, and accept comments and input during the design process and as part of permitting. They are developing their plans now, and are scheduled to present the design options to the Town later this fall. Please share your thoughts as soon as possible with the Maine DOT Project Manager.