General Pierce Bridge to close Monday for two years of construction

  • The General Pierce Bridge over the Connecticut River between Greenfield to Montague will close for repairs starting Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The General Pierce Bridge over the Connecticut River between Greenfield to Montague will close for repairs starting Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The equipment staging area on Mountain Road in Greenfield for the General Pierce Bridge work. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/22/2021 4:57:24 PM

MONTAGUE — Enjoy your ride on the General Pierce Bridge this weekend. On Monday it will close for construction, and isn’t expected to reopen until fall 2023. A pedestrian walkway across the bridge will remain open.

This closure is for a $13.7 million rehabilitation of the bridge, designed to keep it standing for another 25 years.

According to a Thursday press release from the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT), traffic between Greenfield and Montague will be detoured via the Turners Falls-Gill Bridge and Route 2, which have been slightly modified to accommodate the expected increase in traffic. Message boards will advise drivers of the closure.

The General Pierce Bridge rehabilitation will mainly focus on rebuilding the deck of the bridge, and replacing some of the steel support structure underneath. The Montague Selectboard has said that this rehabilitation is much needed, but also that it may not be enough.

Representatives from MassDOT, which owns the General Pierce Bridge, have previously admitted that this rehabilitation is not a permanent solution. Rather, MassDOT presented the plan as a relatively short-term fix, designed to fit a limited budget, intended to keep the bridge in service until a full replacement can be budgeted. Whereas this project has a maximum budget of $18.6 million, the full replacement of the bridge was estimated by MassDOT to cost closer to $60 million.

Considering that the project is about $5 million under budget, the construction company, Northern Construction Service, offered earlier this year to expand the scope of work to include cleaning and painting the upper part of the bridge, which had been among the Selectboard’s requests.

That proposal would have brought the total cost to about $20.5 million. It was apparently rejected by MassDOT, as the value of the project cited in MassDOT’s Thursday statement on the bridge is only $13.7 million.

MassDOT’s public relations department did not respond to requests for more information this week. MassDOT’s foreman for the project and Northern Construction Service’s project manager both said they are not permitted to publicly discuss details of the project.

The only recent information from MassDOT came in its Thursday press release, which confirmed the bridge will be closing Monday.

The larger General Pierce Bridge project has also included modifications at the intersection of Route 2 and the Turners Falls-Gill Bridge, which are designed to accommodate the extra traffic. That work finished this week.

The timeline for the project is considered by MassDOT to last until the fall of 2023. However, Northern Construction Service’s Project Manager Shawn Clark has said in meetings with the Selectboard that it may be finished as early as the spring of 2023.

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




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