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Great Barrington bridge replacement gets complicated

Oct 30, 2020 1:45 pm
Heather Bellow is reporting for The Berkshire Eagle Great Barrington residents are learning they may have to wait up to two years for a temporary bridge needed to reopen a critical road. The town-owned Division Street bridge, that spans the Housatonic River and links routes 183 and 41, was deemed unsafe last year. Town officials learned this week the bridge is in worse shape than it was initially thought, and the pandemic is delaying the release of state funds that would pay for an emergency fix. The extent of deterioration is such that the temporary project would be more expensive than anticipated, approaching $2.5 million to $3 million. The 143-foot bridge, built in 1950, had already been approved at the 2019 annual town meeting for a $4 million overhaul. A July 2019 inspection resulted in an indefinite shutdown, except to pedestrians and bicycles. Following complaints from business owners and residents, the Department of Public Works came up with a fix that would take roughly one year, and open the bridge for the weight load it had when it was shut down. It would keep the road open until a full, permanent replacement was possible. Democrat state Rep. William Pignatelli of Lenox said he would do his best to help move state funding along. He acknowledged the pandemic has delayed practically everything, including state government. He noted the bridge is one of dozens in the county that are rated structurally deficient because they are old. “So many bridges in Massachusetts were all built around the same time, and they are all coming to age out at the same time,” Pignatelli said. Read the full story in The Berkshire Eagle.
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