International bridge at Campobello Island fails to meet U.S. standards

State engineers in Maine have given the international bridge between Campobello Island and the mainland a rating of 46 out of 100.

"The bridge is safe, we've done load ratings on it," said Ben Foster, assistant bridge maintenance engineer for Maine's Department of Transportation. "But as far as meeting current standards, it does not meet them."

Foster says the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge, which has connected the New Brunswick island to Maine since 1962, is showing its age.

In 2013 the piers were repaired and strengthened to stabilize it, but the condition of its superstructure, mainly its steel beams, is rated only "fair."

The condition of the bridge's deck, which is the concrete and steel bed for the asphalt, is "poor."

Foster says the bridge is also too narrow by national standards.

The Maine government has launched a study to look into the problems.

"They're evaluating, what's the plan for this bridge? When should we be doing maintenance on it, what should we be doing?"

The assessment by Maine engineers would seem to be at odds with the rating given by New Brunswick's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Maine follows a national "sufficiency" rating, and New Brunswick uses the Bridge Condition Index, or BCI.

The index gave the bridge a mark of 72 following the most recent inspection in November 2014. Although Jeff Hull, spokesman for the province's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, cautions that it only applies to the New Brunswick portion.

"Work on the bridge was carried out during the 2013 and 2014 construction seasons and included replacement of bearings, rehabilitation of concrete cap-beams, the addition of steel diaphragms, additional stability reinforcement and replacement of expansion joints," said Hull, who added that further work will be carried out this summer. 

​Campobello Mayor Stephen Smart says the condition of the bridge overall is discouraging.

"I would like to know that it was a lot better," said Smart. "I would like to see it a lot higher than 46."

"Boats that travel under the bridge have been giving us just anecdotal reports for several years that they were seeing rust, they were seeing concrete deterioration, they were seeing pieces of the bridge missing."

Ultimately, the community needs a new bridge, Smart said.

"All our goods and services, all our emergency needs, all our travel is through the United States, so the bridge is critical," he said.

"It's near the end of its lifespan whether we want it or not."