WILBRAHAM – Assistant Town Administrator Thomas Sullivan informed the Board of Selectmen during its June 1 meeting that $1 million in state aid is available for a temporary road repair project to fix the East Street Bridge – a crossroads for several communities that has been closed since March.
“Don’t hold your breath, it’ll be next summer until there’s any shovels in the ground,” Selectman Robert Russell said.
Department of Public Works Director Edmond Miga Jr. later told Reminder Publications there is no timeline set for the start of construction, but “in a perfect world” he would hope it would go out to bid the end of the summer.
“There’s a 30-day comment period that is in effect in the moment,” he added. “The public can comment [on the designs] until June 20. It’s on the fiscal year 2016 (FY16) projects list [for the state] to be done and we’re at 90 percent approval with the plans for the work.”
Miga said the project wasn’t initially slated for finding until fiscal year 2020.
“We worked very hard to try to get money,” he noted. “It’s a closed bridge, which is a huge inconvenience to the public, not to mention the businesses, the general contractors coming from Ludlow [who] head that way to Palmer with their trucks. It’s a huge detour for them not to be able to use this.”
To be completely finished, the project would need an additional $900,000, which would likely come from the state at a future time, Miga said.
“It’s not as critical as the work that needs to be done to the abutment,” he added. “[The $1 million project] is a lot of other related work. We have an expansion joint that needs to be completely rehabbed, the abutment work, there’s sidewalk work and railing work to be done on the bridge. There’s an actual hole in the bridge that we have a steel plate on that will also need to be fixed.”
The project’s submittal has been ready since 2014, Miga noted. The plans were at 65 percent completion when a nearby bridge was shut down for a complete rehabilitation in 2009.
“We had tried to get both bridges done at the same time,” he added.
Miga said the project would not have been moved onto the FY16 project list without help from local state legislators.
“Michael Clark from [state] Sen. Eric Lesser’s office was really instrumental in pursing the funding and getting the meetings set up,” he added.