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Orange to seek more state money for bridge project

  • The East Road bridge in Orange, closed since 2015, is expected to be replaced by next year. The town has asked the state for more money to help fund the construction. Recorder Staff/David McLellan



Recorder Staff
Friday, July 13, 2018

ORANGE — Residents, school bus drivers and town officials are eager to see the East Road bridge reopened. For three years, the closure has severed a route from North Orange to Route 2A and the rest of town.

Preliminary estimates show that more money will be needed than the $420,000 in Massachusetts Department of Transportation grant money to replace the bridge. Orange is going to the state to ask for more.

The Selectboard approved Wednesday night a letter to MassDOT District 2 Highway Director Peter Cavicchi asking for an additional $80,000-$500,000, the maximum amount the town may get from the Baker-Polito administration’s Small Bridge Program.

“We were thrilled, to put it mildly, and very grateful to the state for this program,” Selectboard Chairman Ryan Mailloux said, reading his letter aloud. “It enables the town to fix a road and bridge issue that is a main route for our school buses and residents, that has been closed while we sought a solution.”

The town has a contract with Tighe & Bond for engineering and design work on the bridge, which crosses West Brook on the three-mile road. Town Administrator Gabriele Voelker has anticipated the project being done by “fall or winter.”

In preliminary designing, Tighe & Bond found that $420,000 was very unlikely to be enough to cover the cost of replacing the bridge.

Mailloux added the town is “exploring all areas” of possible funding in the letter, which is also being forwarded to state Rep. Susannah Whipps, I-Athol.

“We’ll be taking some of our Chapter 90 funds to help cover the gap. However, this directly impacts other necessary road projects,” Mailloux said.

The grant money is a portion of $5.2 million awarded in January to 12 communities to repair or replace small (10 to 20 feet long) bridges.

While the bridge is small, its location in a residential neighborhood has caused some problems. Selectboard member and school bus driver Tom Smith has said the bridge’s closure has added time and inconvenience when taking children to school.

Reach David McLellan at: dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.