LePage uses out-of-state contractor to build logging bridge

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An out-of-state company hired by Republican Gov. Paul LePage has installed a bridge across land owned by a family that wants to donate 87,500 acres to the National Park Service. While local contractors in the economically crippled Katahdin region said they could've done the...

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An out-of-state company hired by Republican Gov. Paul LePage has installed a bridge across land owned by a family that wants to donate 87,500 acres to the National Park Service.

While local contractors in the economically crippled Katahdin region said they could've done the work, the state said it put out a bid request and "local sources were not available." A Pennsylvania company did the work last week.

The bridge is part of the LePage administration's $160,000 effort to re-establish a state right of way across land owned by Roxanne Quimby, founder of Burt's Bees, a personal care products company that calls itself "Earth friendly" and says it has a triple bottom line: people, profit, planet.

Money accumulated in a state timber harvesting fund will pay to rebuild a logging road and pay for the bridge, which replaced a bridge across Katahdin Stream, a Maine Forest Service spokesman said. LePage plans to use the right of way to log a 2,574-acre public state forest called the Turner Mountain Lot.

LePage has denounced Quimby's push to establish a national monument and eventually a national park east of Baxter State Park. A message left with a spokesman for Quimby's son wasn't immediately returned Friday.

The award to build the portable, 50-foot-long bridge, which can carry a load of up to 45 tons, went to ADM Welding and Fabrication in Warren, Pennsylvania.

Contractors Mark Rafford, of M. Rafford Construction and Trucking in Ashland, and Jeff Pelletier, of Pelletier Manufacturing in Millinocket, told Rockland's Free Press newspaper they could have built such a bridge. They didn't immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

The Free Press also reported that before the bridge was installed the bureau that oversees Maine public lands called in a Maine Forest Service helicopter to lift three all-terrain vehicles from one side of Katahdin Stream to the other.

Charles Fitzgerald, who owns about 20 percent of the Turner Mountain Lot, this year filed a legal petition that could delay timber harvest operations.

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