Town admin: $770K pedestrian bridge grant ‘a tremendous win’ for Montague

  • The closed Fifth Street pedestrian bridge in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The closed Fifth Street pedestrian bridge next to the “green bridge” in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The closed Fifth Street pedestrian bridge next to the “green bridge” in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/16/2022 4:26:17 PM
Modified: 1/16/2022 4:25:12 PM

MONTAGUE — The state has granted the town $770,000 in funding for the Fifth Street pedestrian bridge replacement project, nullifying the need for a $200,000 capital stabilization appropriation approved during Special Town Meeting in October.

Town Administrator Steve Ellis announced the grant during the Capital Improvement Committee’s meeting last week. The funding is in addition to the town’s existing $2.1 million MassWorks grant, which was awarded in December 2019. The additional funding makes up for the $769,531 gap that remained following a higher-than-expected low bid of more than $2.3 million, factoring in $360,000 in engineering and construction oversight costs and a recommended contingency of $233,866.

The pedestrian bridge (the smaller brown bridge next to the green vehicle bridge) has been closed since August 2017, when the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) found it was not up to code. Town officials were discouraged when bids came in considerably higher than anticipated, with David G. Roach & Sons Inc.’s low bid officially being awarded Oct. 18.

“The unexpected high cost of a construction contingency can really consume an entire project before it (begins),” Ellis explained.

Aside from campaigning for the $200,000 appropriation that would later be approved at October’s Special Town Meeting and maximizing $491,493 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money, officials agreed to have Ellis reach out for additional MassWorks grant funding.

“Advocacy can get you somewhere sometimes,” Ellis said with a smile at last week’s meeting, having succeeded in his request.

Ellis outlined three possibilities for how the town may reallocate the funding that was previously appropriated for the project. He began by recommending keeping the $200,000 Town Meeting allocation on hand for contingency. Alternatively, he suggested the town might keep a portion of the ARPA funds. Lastly, Ellis said the Selectboard might choose to allocate the $200,000 toward different components of the project that weren’t seen as a possibility before.

“This is a tremendous win for Montague,” Ellis said.

The pedestrian bridge replacement project is set to be completed by June 30.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


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