| By Erin O'Connor |
WESTFIELD Construction is nearing on the Great River Bridge Project announced Mayor Richard K. Sullivan, State Senator Michael R. Knapik and State Representative Donald F. Humason Jr. on Nov. 14 after three companies submitted proposals for the project.
The project calls for the construction of a new three-lane structure to be constructed parallel and east of the current Great River Bridge, that will carry northbound traffic. The existing bridge built in 1939 considered an historic structure, will be rehabilitated to carry three-lanes of southbound traffic on Routes 10 and 202.
In addition, the current overpass for the CSX Railroad would be heightened to provide for a clearance of 14.5 feet to allow for smoother flow for truck traffic.
The lowest bidder was identified as J.F. White Contracting of Framingham with an amount of $54,740,943.85. The Massachusetts Highway Department will take the next few weeks to review the proposal and start drawing contract agreements. Officials expect that site preparation and demolition may begin this winter.
"We literally have been working on this for 12 years," Sullivan said. "For the last 50 years we knew the bridge over the river was a priority."
Knapik said that the project is an example of a long involvement between government officials and planning.
"Involvement began in 1992, half a generation ago," Knapik said. "There was large discussion to improve Westfield's transportation infrastructure. I am very pleased we have received outstanding support from the Secretary of Transportation John Cogliano, and everyone at Mass Highway to ensure this project leaves an indelible impact on our efforts to make Westfield's infrastructure work for the next 50 years."
"It is no secret that traffic has increased in the city over the past several years and I am hopeful this project will contribute to an alleviation of the pressure we have seen along our downtown corridor," Humason said.
The bridge project is the result of a combined effort from the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Federal Highway Administration and several city departments. It was officially announced on Sept. 25, 2005.
"It has gone from an $8 million bridge replacement to a $54 million bridge rehabilitation project," Knapik said. "In the MassHighway scope, money was very scarce especially after the Big Dig, opening a critical element in seeing construction begin."
Knapik said millions have already been spent in the design element of the bridge plans.
"We are very excited," Sullivan said. "It is a great transportation project in the community for appearance and for the mindset of the public. The bridge and the river are an aggravation everyday and now will be a pleasant trip, with a natural view of downtown."