Four Franklin County towns receive $500K each for small bridge projects

  • The wooden bridge over the Whetstone Brook on Kentfield Road in Wendell is slated for repair, thanks to a $500,000 grant the town received through the Municipal Small Bridge Program. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The wooden bridge over the Whetstone Brook on Kentfield Road in Wendell is slated for repair, thanks to a $500,000 grant the town received through the Municipal Small Bridge Program. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2020 11:15:16 AM

Wendell, Buckland, Rowe and Heath have each received $500,000 through the Municipal Small Bridge Program in its final round of funding.

The four Franklin County towns are among 27 throughout the state to receive a total of $6.3 million in funding. Gov. Charlie Baker said in a press statement that the money can be used by cities and towns to preserve and repair their communities’ smaller bridges.

Janice Boudreau, Rowe’s executive secretary, said the town will use the grant funding for a new bridge on Ford Hill Road. The project was previously considered to be a culvert, she said, but due to new standards set by the state, it has been re-designated as a bridge project.

“When we became eligible, it happened to be next on our list of to-do’s,” Boudreau said. “It worked out really well.”

She said the town is working with Gill Engineering in Needham to develop cost estimates for the project.

Heather Butler, Buckland’s town administrator, said Buckland also benefited from the change in standards. The town originally applied for a similar grant in 2019, but was denied.

The money will be used to build a small bridge and replace a culvert on Nilman Road. According to Butler, the culvert was in need of repair, especially because it is the only access way for five residents that reside on the other side of the gap. She said larger delivery vehicles have been wary of the old culvert, too.

“We’ve had our eye on it for some time, considering public safety,” Butler said. “If we lose the culvert, we strand those residents, and that’s obviously unacceptable.”

Butler said the project will cost a total of about $625,000. She said Buckland has applied for gap funding from the state Division of Ecological Restoration to cover the cost beyond the $500,000 grant from the Municipal Small Bridge Program. The engineering work has been completed on the project, and the town is aiming to put it out to bid this fall.

Wendell Highway Commissioner Phil Delorey said the town will use its portion of the grant money on a wooden bridge on Kentfield Road.

Heath Highway Superintendent Jeffrey Johnston said Heath’s share of the grant money will be used to replace decking, girders and railings, as well as the abutments for a bridge over Burrington Brook.

Since it was signed into law in 2016, the Municipal Small Bridge Program has helped facilitate the development of 121 small bridge projects that, due to their size of 10 to 20 feet long, would be deemed ineligible for federal funding, according to a press release about the latest round of grants. An increasing number of such bridges are at high risk for full or partial closure due to their present conditions.

This grant round exhausts the five-year, $50 million budget for the program, the release states. Until new bond authorization becomes available, no new grant funding will be announced. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will use the small amount remaining to fund emergency small bridge replacement and repair requests, in line with program’s objectives.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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