Waldo Hancock Suspension Bridge coming down- but how?

Waldo Hancock Bridge in Maine. Photo courtesy of HABS-HAER















It had served US 1 for 71 years and has been standing for a total of 82 years. Now, a piece of Maine’s history is coming down. The Waldo-Hancock Bridge, spanning the Penobscot River at the Waldo- Hancock County border was one of two bridges built by the American Bridge Company and designed by David Steinman. Built in 1931 over a year before Franklin Roosevelt dethroned Herbert Hoover in the Presidential Elections and introduced the New Deal to fight the Great Depression, the bridge was characteristic for its towers, its Vierendeel truss work used for its roadway and its stiffening wire cables that were used to support the roadway. The Dear Isle Bridge, also in Hancock County, and the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan are two other known examples of bridges built by Steinman. Nathan Holth wrote a detailed description of the suspension bridge, which can be seen here.

Maine DOT had originally planned to rehabilitate the suspension bridge in 2001, only to retract the plan when inspection revealed many cables and trusses rusting and corroding to a point of where the bridge was beyond repair. Therefore, in 2007, a cable-stayed suspension bridge was built alongside the Waldo-Hancock span, which featured an observation deck on the west tower of the span. While the state had planned to rehabilitate the old suspension bridge, it decided to demolish the structure last Fall. At the time of this posting, demolition is commencing, but in an unusual fashion.

As we have seen with many bridges, demolition contractors have used explosives to bring them down, and the time it took to remove the debris was in a span of between 2 days and 2 months, pending on the size and the boat traffic. This was the case with the Ft. Steuben Bridge over the Ohio River, when it was imploded in February of last year.  In other cases, the spans are cut up in pieces, brought down to the barges and hauled away to land, where they are cut up to pieces and hauled away. This happened to the Red Bridge near Dubuque in July of last year.

Given the environmental circumstances and its proximity of the cable-stayed bridge, there is another method that the contractors have taken and has been approved by Maine DOT. Can you take a guess as to how the Waldo-Hancock Suspension Bridge is being taken down?

Put your guesses down in the Comment section and the answer will be revealed next week at this time. Good luck. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Waldo Hancock Suspension Bridge coming down- but how?

  1. Because of the environmental impact explosives can’t be used and coupled with the nasty weather that Maine sometimes gets it was decided to take the bridge down in the reverse order that it was built….in sections, the roadbed will probably be first….then the stringers…..i’m not sure how they are going to bring down the large suspension cables, if they uncouple the bundles of individual cables that make up the two main support cables they may snap under their own weight….and finally the towers and mounts will come down…I would love to see a stopmotion video of this amazing engineering feat!


  2. Helloo just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

    The text in your post seem too be running off the screen in Chrome.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or somethikng to do with browser
    compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get
    the issue fixed soon. Kudos


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