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Colrain bridge closing costing Mohawk $275 a day for van

COLRAIN — What a difference a little country bridge can make.

Recently, the state closed the Heath Road Bridge in Colrain, which runs above the West Branch of the North River. Now the Mohawk Trail Regional School District has to spend about $46,000 a year to add a four-wheel drive van to its school bus services to get students to their schools on the narrow roads of the detour.

The bridge, from Colrain to Heath, off Adamsville Road, was ordered closed by the state on April 4, after a bridge inspector determined that the two outside girders, battered during Tropical Storm Irene, were beginning to fail. According to Colrain Highway Superintendent Scott Sullivan, the bridge has been closed indefinitely and detour signs will be posted. Massachusetts Department of Transportation has put the bridge on its list of “accelerated bridge projects” for an estimated $1.3 million repair — to start in 2018.

Mohawk facilities manager Robin Pease said it was necessary to order the van from Kuzmeskus to transport seven Mohawk students and 14 elementary students. Because the van seats eight students, the van makes two trips to pick up the elementary children and transfers them to a larger school bus.

Pease said the additional bus now costs the district about $275 per day for a 180-day school year.

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