In 1987 the state of Maine, in concert with surrounding towns, concluded that the existing Million Dollar Bridge, which was almost 70 years old, was inadequate for current needs. This bridge, also a draw bridge, had only two traffic lanes and offered severely limited clearances for maritime traffic. Given increases in tanker commerce and increased usage of the bridge, a replacement was decided on, and construction started in 1993. The Casco Bay Bridge was completed in 1997.
Casco Bay Bridge under construction. The span is much larger than its predecessor
The new Casco Bay Bridge has four 12 foot (3.7 m) wide lanes, with a pedestrian lane on its eastern side. The bridge is supported by several 7 foot (2.1m meter) thick concrete H-pile cylinders, which the bridge's steel girders sit atop. The new bridge has much higher horizontal and vertical clearances, which allow larger ships access further into the Fore River, with the bascule also having to open less frequently. Extra precautions were taken to ensure that the bridge had sufficient pier protection (during construction to the bridge, the existing Million Dollar Bridge was struck at its piers by the oil tanker Julie N., which spilled roughly 179,600 gallons (679,860 liters) of heating oil into Casco Bay). The bridge's steelwork was painted red in order to make it aesthetically pleasing.
The final cost for the Casco Bay Bridge was $130 million, making it the largest project undertaken by the Maine Department of Transportation at the time.
According to the Bangor Daily News, a South Portland entrepreneur started a unique service for Casco Bay Bridge commuters in October of 2012. The service, titled cascobaybridge.com, offers subscribers a text message alert when the Casco Bay Bridge goes up due to passing ships. Currently the service is offered during the morning and evening rush hours, but may be expanded if demand warrants.