Following painting proposal, MassDOT considering expanding General Pierce Bridge rehab

  • The General Pierce Bridge links Greenfield and Montague over the Connecticut River. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/23/2021 4:27:27 PM

MONTAGUE — A proposed expansion to the rehabilitation of the General Pierce Bridge scheduled to start this spring is indeed being considered by the state Department of Transportation, Montague Town Administrator Steve Ellis says, but the state has not committed to expanding the project yet.

In the current plan, worth $13.8 million, the rehabilitation of the bridge linking Greenfield and Montague over the Connecticut River mainly focuses on the structural integrity of the steel support and the deck of the bridge.

This plan has been criticized by the Montague Selectboard for being less complete than what the bridge needs. The board has specifically advocated that the upper section of the bridge should be repainted, and that lighting should be added.

However, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which manages the General Pierce Bridge, has explained that this rehabilitation is not meant to be perfect. Rather, it is a 25-year stopgap meant to keep the bridge standing until, ideally, it can be fully replaced 25 years from now.

The cost of the full replacement, MassDOT has said, would be around $60 million. By comparison, this temporary rehab was budgeted at about $18.5 million.

In January, the construction company hired for the project, Northern Construction Service, proposed an expanded rehab plan that would include the paint job that the Selectboard had asked for. Northern Construction’s bid for MassDOT’s plan was only $13.8 million, which gave some cause to think that MassDOT might accept a plan to expand the project, as it would still potentially be within the original $18.5 million budget.

On Monday, Ellis informed the Selectboard that MassDOT has requested more information from Northern Construction Service on its proposal, and has confirmed that it is at least considering painting the bridge.

The new lights that the Selectboard had requested are also reportedly being considered, Ellis said, although Northern Construction Service’s proposal did not include lights.

The General Pierce Bridge is set to close for construction before the spring, according to Northern Construction Service. It will be closed through 2022, and would reopen in the spring of 2023.

Reach Max Marcus at
or 413-930-4231.

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