Erving’s Church Street bridge work expected to come before Town Meeting voters

  • The Church Street bridge over Jack’s Brook in Erving is expected to be fully or partially closed within the next few weeks due to structural issues. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The Church Street bridge over Jack’s Brook in Erving is expected to be fully or partially closed within the next few weeks due to structural issues. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 3/1/2021 3:42:42 PM

ERVING — Structural issues in the bridge on Church Street mean that the bridge will be fully or partially closed within the next few weeks, and that Special Town Meeting voters will have to decide whether to replace it.

The structural problems were discovered in an inspection by the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Though MassDOT has not yet formally declared the bridge to be problematic, the formal declaration is expected to come any day now, said Erving Administrative Coordinator Bryan Smith.

From there, Town Meeting voters will have to decide whether to hire an engineering firm to design a replacement bridge (though Smith clarified that this decision will not commit the town to actually replacing the bridge). A Special Town Meeting will likely be held in late March or early April, Smith said. The warrant is being reviewed by the Selectboard and is expected be finalized this week.

Replacement of the Church Street bridge has been on the town’s radar for a few years, Smith said. Ownership of the bridge had been unclear for some time, but it is now accepted by MassDOT and Erving that the bridge is the town’s responsibility.

“It’s not a huge surprise,” Smith said. “We knew there was deterioration, we knew the work had to happen, we’ve accepted that ownership will fall into the town’s lap.”

Town officials had tentatively expected to replace the bridge in fiscal year 2024, but MassDOT’s recent inspection brings the timeline forward by about a year. Smith said if Town Meeting voters decide to pursue the project, engineering work will likely take 10 to 12 months. In that case, construction would likely be in the summer of 2022, which is the beginning of fiscal year 2023.

What to do with the bridge in the meantime is up to the Selectboard. The board has debated between closing the bridge completely, changing it to one-way traffic, or adding a traffic light to make it alternating one way at a time. The board has not decided yet.

“I don’t think we’ve identified a perfect solution,” Smith said. “There is some further deliberation the board has to have.”

Reach Max Marcus at
mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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