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April 10, 2019

MDOT contest reveals Maine's favorite bridge

MDOT's "Bridge Bracket" Courtesy / Maine Department of Transportation The Cpl. Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge in Norridgewock was declared the winner in the MDOT's first-ever 'Bridge Bracket' online contest to name Maine's favorite bridge.

On a par with this week’s hoopla over Virginia winning the NCAA men’s college basketball title, Maine crowned its own favorite in its first-ever ‘Bridge Bracket’ online contest: the Cpl. Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge in Norridgewock.

The promotion, by the Maine Department of Transportation, asked Mainers to pick their favorite bridge out of its own “Sweet 16,” that pitted two bridges against each other every day on social media until a winner was found.

In the final match-up, the Cpl. Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge bested the Deer Isle Bridge by a vote of 3,000 to 2,300, according to MDOT spokesman Paul Merrill.

The Cpl. Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge, named for the Somerset County sheriff’s corporal killed in the line of duty in 2018, crosses the Kennebec River close to where Cole’s family lived and the place where he died. The bridge was built in 2011 and dedicated in Cole’s honor last year.

“It was really the one to beat the whole way through,” Merrill said by phone on Tuesday, adding that Norridgewock’s town manager helped garner a groundswell of support. “It knocked off a lot of contenders, and we assumed it was going to be the winner. Norridgewock showed up and they made a difference.”

The Maine DOT’s take on March Madness aimed to raise public awareness about its engineers’ work on Maine’s infrastructure while highlighting the agency’’s human, and humorous, side.

Merrill said the total vote count came to about 16,000, including people who probably voted multiple times, and that the Maine DOT gained about 700 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the contest. There were no geographic analytics on where votes originated.

Merrill also said there’s a strong likelihood the contest may turn into an annual tradition.

“The promotion did exactly what we wanted it to do — engage people online paying attention to infrastructure. I don’t see why we wouldn’t repeat that,” he said.

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