Covered bridge to get a fix in 2014
Recorder file/Peter MacDonald
The covered bridge on Eunice Williams Drive in Greenfield has been off its abutments since Tropical Storm Irene hit in August 2011.
the covered bridge rests askew on its abutments over the Green River in Greenfield.
GREENFIELD — The town’s 41-year-old covered bridge, which was knocked off its abutments by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 and has since been sitting in a nearby parking lot at the “pumping station” on Eunice Williams Drive, will be repaired, returned to where it belongs and open to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic by the end of 2014, according to Mayor William Martin.
The mayor said the bridge will be repaired in the parking lot while the abutments are replaced. He said the bridge will then be lifted and placed on its new abutments.
Town Engineer Sara Campbell said 10 bids came in by the deadline of Dec. 19 and have since been opened and reviewed.
Campbell said bids ranged from $899,000 to $1.7 million, which is a good, competitive range.
“The low bid was in line with the engineering estimate,” said Campbell.
She said the town is currently evaluating the qualifications of the bidders and will make a decision soon on whether things will be added to the project, like fireproofing treatment, telltales, which would show the height clearance of the bridge when placed back on its abutments, and a new roof.
Campbell said those would add between $26,000 and $78,000 to the total cost, depending on what the town decides.
She said the state Department of Transportation required that the covered bridge be moved to dry land, instead of being repaired where it was, so that may have raised the bidding prices.
Martin said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for about 70 percent of the cost, excluding restoring the bridge to a vehicular bridge, because it was not one when it was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.
The rest will come out of the town’s Chapter 90 state aid road money, said Martin, who said the town typically receives about $600,000 to $700,000 in Chapter 90 money from the state each year.
Campbell said the state DOT will have to approve any money the town plans to use from Chapter 90.
The town talked for many years about giving the bridge, which used to accommodate both vehicle and foot traffic, a face lift, but never made it a priority.
In 2002, the bridge closed to vehicular traffic after the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials had listed it as structurally deficient and in poor overall condition.
When Irene pummeled Greenfield, it pulled the town’s only covered bridge off of its abutments and left it hanging over the river. A couple of months later, the town moved it into the nearby parking lot.
Campbell said work is expected to begin in April and the town hopes it will be completed by the end of September.
The town’s Historical Commission has already approved plans to preserve some of the old stone abutments.
Campbell said that the bridge could not be reset on the existing abutments, because reinforced concrete needs to be used.
In 1972, the town built the bridge, which replaced a 100-year-old covered bridge that had been destroyed by a fire set by vandals three years before on Halloween night in 1969.
The entire site is included in the Historical Marker database and the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission Markers series.
The pumping station was once a popular spot for swimming, fishing and picnicking.
“We’re really looking forward to finishing this project and getting our covered bridge back,” said Martin.