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State deems crumbling bridge structurally sound

The concrete facade of the bridge on State Street is crumbling, its staircases are not handicap accessible and it is currently wrapped in netting to catch falling chunks of concrete.Reminder Publications submitted photo
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Covered in netting to prevent chunks of concrete from falling on cars traveling beneath it, City Councilor William Foley is concerned about the bridge on State Street that spans Roosevelt Avenue.

Because the city is responsible for the bridge, it could be liable for injuries or accidents resulting from problems at the bridge. Foley noted that "thousands of kids" pass by because the bridge is near both Putnam Vocational School and the High School of Science and Technology.

The concrete facade of the bridge is crumbling. The bridge's staircases allowing pedestrians to walk down to Roosevelt Avenue have been closed.

Foley conducted a City Council committee meeting on Tuesday about the status of the bridge and, according to the report from state bridge safety officials, Al Chwalek, head of the Department of Public Works, said the state has determined that even though the bridge needs work, it is structurally sound.

Chwalek left the meeting to go to the bridge to conduct his own survey. He said he knows the bridge needs to be stabilized from the effects of eroding water.

"Anything to do with safety we will do immediately," Chwalek said.

Chwalek said Mass Highways inspects bridges in the Commonwealth every two years.

David Panagore, the city's chief economic development officer, said because the bridge is sound, any sort of major re-design or improvement is low in priority.

"We have to find a way to move it up the cue," Panagore said.

As part of the State Street Corridor project, there could be cosmetic improvements to the bridge such as a new sidewalk with decorative brick. Panagore said that Mass Highways officials are aware of the city's desire to put improvements to the bridge into the State Street Corridor project.

Chwalek said the staircases would never be restored because they would have to be made handicap accessible, something the city could not afford to do.