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Condemned Holyoke footbridge will be demolished

By Nate Luscombe

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE The footbridge at Dwight and Main Streets is due to be torn down and likely will be wiped from the Holyoke skyline by June 30. The bridge has been deemed unsafe, and has been closed since late 2004.

Mayor Michael Sullivan said the bridge was closed down after an engineer determined the bridge was beyond the code of ethics for repair.

"We were told on a Tuesday, and on Thursday we were boarding it up," Sullivan said.

William Murphy, who works in the Community Development Office, said his office has written a block grant to cover the expense of razing the bridge. Murphy said the city expects to have prices in about six weeks.

When the project to resurrect the building began, the city spent $20,000 to do an analysis of the bridge, with the intention of making repairs and replacing necessary pieces, Murphy said. The analysis determined the bridge was beyond repair and needed to be removed.

The bridge crosses a set of railroad tracks that are still in use, Sullivan said, which makes the demolition of the building that much more complex.

Murphy said the city would have to get approvals from the railroad in order to demolish the bridge.

Sullivan said that while the existing bridge will be taken down, several of the supports will be left in place for a new bridge.

A new bridge, which Sullivan said hopefully will go up next year, will have improved lighting and safety features, as well as be handicapped-accessible.

In the 1880s, the lower part of the city was separated from the main section by railroad tracks, and residents needed a way to easily travel between the sections.

The first bridge spanning the railroad tracks was built in 1893, at the cost of $7,207, according to a Nov. 7, 1985 article in the Transcript-Telegram.

That walkway was uncovered, which left pedestrians exposed to the weather and the gases from the locomotives passing underneath.

The bridge was deemed unsafe shortly after it was completed, the article said.

In 1915, a new plan for a bridge was hatched, and the next bridge was built 20 feet to the south of the previous one. This new bridge, which is the current bridge, was enclosed in concrete and steel.

The bridge was repaired and painted in the 1960s, and received a general overhaul in 1979.