Charlemont gets $950k state grant to fix bridges

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/2/2016 11:33:36 PM

CHARLEMONT — Charlemont has received a $949,000 MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to repair three bridges that are at risk of being closed.

The money will be used to bring two weight-restricted bridges on Route 8A North (also known as North Heath Road) back to full service and to replace the Legate Hill Road bridge superstructure. Besides affecting Charlemont residents, these bridges are also used by residents in Rowe and Heath.

On Monday, Selectmen Sarah Reynolds and Toby Gould received the town’s grant at a State House ceremony with Gov. Charlie Baker and other state officials, including Jay Ash, secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Also present at the Boston event were Jon and Jim Schaefer of the Berkshire East Mountain Resort, who supported the town’s grant application, because the condition of the town’s bridges is important to Charlemont-based businesses. According to Jon Schaefer, his brother was asked to speak “on behalf of the public/private partnership” that has developed in Charlemont, a town of 46 bridges and only about 1,200 residents.

Also, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and state Rep. Paul Mark attended the ceremony.

Baker said the MassWorks program “promotes community vitality by investing in shovel-ready public infrastructure projects that allow municipalities to unlock impactful local and regional economic development opportunities.”

About $8.8 million was awarded in this round to 10 rural communities, including Charlemont; however, the state had received 114 applications, requesting about $287 million in public infrastructure grant funding.

“The application process was very competitive,” said Charlemont Selectboard Chairwoman Beth Bandy. She said that Berkshire East “has been working very hard with Secretary Ash. They have this business that needs to have town infrastructure,” she said of the outdoor adventure resort.

According to the Gill Engineering report of “Bridge Deficiency Evalution and Repair Recommendations” prepared for the town this spring, $160,000 is the estimated cost to replace severely corroded beams and metal sections of the Legate Hill Road bridge — a high priority repair.

The North Heath Road bridge over Mill Brook was constructed in 1939 and is about 54 feet long. There is corrosion of exterior beams near the deck drains. Repair costs are estimated at $459,000.

The North Heath Road bridge over Maxwell Brook was also built around 1939 and was weight-restricted in 2014 and has concrete deterioration. Estimated repair costs are $403,000.

According to Bandy, the town will be applying for a $500,000 grant through state’s new Small Bridge Repair Program to bring the two Maxwell Road bridges back to full service. Both are considered “high priority” bridges, built around 1939, and in need of superstructure replacement.

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