MassDOT: General Pierce Bridge repairs ahead of schedule

  • Greenfield resident John Emond rolled across the almost finished General Pierce Bridge on Tuesday. He was allowed to use the bridge over the Connecticut River between Greenfield and Montague to get to his doctor’s appointment in Montague City. The bridge is not open to the public yet. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Construction continues on the General Pierce Bridge over the Connecticut River between Greenfield and Montague. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Construction continues on the General Pierce Bridge over the Connecticut River between Greenfield and Montague, particularly on the structure beneath the bridge deck. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2022 10:32:35 PM

MONTAGUE — The General Pierce Bridge is starting to look ready for commuters, with the structure now slated to reopen in March.

The General Pierce Bridge, a primary route between Montague and Greenfield, closed for a multi-year construction project on April 26, 2021. The $13.7 million rehabilitation of the bridge, designed to keep it standing for another 25 years, is being carried out by Northern Construction Service and is mainly focused on both rebuilding the deck and replacing some of the steel support structure below.

According to Kristen Pennucci, communications director with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the revised window for completion puts the project ahead of schedule. In March, Town Administrator Steve Ellis had announced an anticipated completion date of May 15.

“With recent trends toward construction delays, we are pleased to see the progress toward the General Pierce Bridge and it gives us confidence that they will meet — or improve upon — the expected opening date of May 2023,” Ellis said upon hearing the news of the reopening timeline when reached by the Greenfield Recorder on Thursday.

Paving was completed last week, according to Pennucci. Guardrail installation commenced Thursday, while pavement markings are slated for completion on Friday.

Additional work includes concrete repairs at beam seat locations, bearing rehabilitation, rivet replacements, lattice steel repairs, bridge rail modifications, remaining painting and installation of a pedestrian lighting system, according to Pennucci.

While these repairs will ensure the integrity of the bridge for another 25 years, state Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver announced “an opportunity to advance the full replacement” of the structure in an email sent to state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, in June. The determination, Gulliver wrote at the time, came in response to advocacy “regarding the renewed support for additional work to remediate and to paint the upper trusses on the General Pierce Bridge” that had previously gone unanswered.

“Our analysis determined that, due to the age and condition of the bridge, the scope of work would need to expand considerably beyond painting and would additionally require extensive repair work to remove rusted structural elements that, although stable, are not suitable for painting,” Gulliver wrote in response to the Selectboard inquiring about the bridge’s potential painting.

“We considered several alternatives and determined that the approach that is the most resilient and least impactful to the community is to advance the full replacement of the bridge.”

No timeline has been set for the full replacement, but Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz said previously that he anticipates work could commence only after completion of the $56 million three-bridge replacement project along the canal that was announced in June. Replacing Turners Falls Road’s “White Bridge,” the cross-canal “Green Bridge” and Sixth Street’s Bailey Bridge is expected to begin in four to five years.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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