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I-Team: High ledge under new South Bristol bridge creates hazard for boaters

The busy drawbridge in South Bristol was replaced last year, but material left behind in the water is causing problems for boaters.

SOUTH BRISTOL (WGME) -- The busy drawbridge in South Bristol was replaced last year, but material left behind in the water is causing problems for boaters.

Traffic flows smoothly over the bridge, but traveling below can be a bumpy ride.

"His keel of the boat could hit that object down there," said South Bristol Harbormaster, Cecil Burnham.

Burnham said cement and rock lurk beneath the water on the south edge of the channel, and at low tide that ledge sits in as little as eight inches of water.

"On a real low tide, it can be out of the water," he said.

Burnham said when the Maine Department of Transportation replaced the bridge in 2016, they widened the channel by three feet, but left the base of the old embankment, creating a hazard for boats.

"Everybody who has a boat 40 foot plus definitely has an issue," said Eben Wilson, a local lobsterman.

Wilson said he won't risk damage to the Lettie Elise, so he keeps close tabs on the tides, sometimes choosing to go all the way around the bay instead of the river.

"It's a daily battle with trying to figure out which way I have to go," said Wilson.

Burnham said he's been asking the state to remove the ledge for months.

"They were gonna do this, come in and remove it last fall. It did not happen," he said. "They were gonna do it in the spring. It did not happen."

That's why he and other locals reached out to the CBS 13 I-Team.

"Very frustrated," said Burnham. "Trying to talk to the people to move this thing along. No luck."

When CBS 13 relayed the community's questions and frustrations to the DOT today, officials told us they're on top of it.

Spokesman Ted Talbot said signs are expected to be posted next week and a permanent fix should come in 2018, but in-water projects like this one require lots of rules and regulation.

Talbot said they're actively working to secure funds and obtain new permits.

For lobstermen and locals, the fix can't come soon enough.

"This bridge is the most opened bridge in the State of Maine," said Burnham. "Sometimes in the summer times it's opened some 3,000 times a month."

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