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Route 10 bridge in Easthampton could open two months ahead of schedule

  • Attention to detail<br/>The Weymouth-based Northern Construction Company, working on Easthampton's Route 10 bridge reconstruction project, hopes to bring the job in ahead of schedule. Here, Yulian Kostov works on the job one day last week. For story, see Page 5.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Attention to detail
    The Weymouth-based Northern Construction Company, working on Easthampton's Route 10 bridge reconstruction project, hopes to bring the job in ahead of schedule. Here, Yulian Kostov works on the job one day last week. For story, see Page 5.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton bridge that will be closing shortly.

    Easthampton bridge that will be closing shortly. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS


    Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Attention to detail<br/>The Weymouth-based Northern Construction Company, working on Easthampton's Route 10 bridge reconstruction project, hopes to bring the job in ahead of schedule. Here, Yulian Kostov works on the job one day last week. For story, see Page 5.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Easthampton bridge that will be closing shortly.
  • Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • <br/>Frank DePaola, the Mass Department highway division administrator, at the Easthampton bridge Tuesday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

Frank DePaola, administrator for the Highway Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, visited the construction site just north of the rotary in downtown Easthampton Tuesday to announce the news. “We’re excited that it will open early,” he said. “We’re trying to use methods that deliver projects faster because we want to reduce the impact to the driving public and to businesses.”

The construction company completing the $3.75 million replacement project, funded as part of the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program, has been working 10-hour days, six days a week to get the project done early, DePaola said.

That’s because Northern Construction’s contract with the state has an incentive clause that says it can collect a $3,350 bonus for every day ahead of the six-month schedule the bridge is open, up to $100,000. The contract also states that there would be a $3,350 penalty per day if the bridge opened after Dec. 3.

Northern Construction will get the maximum $100,000 bonus as long as the bridge is open by Nov. 4, 30 days ahead of schedule.

Patrick Brough, president of the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, said the prediction that bridge could reopen in a month and a half is welcome news to businesses on Route 10 (Northampton Street) now bypassed by the detour on O’Neill, Lovefield and Pleasant streets. MassDOT estimated that 22,000 cars per day traveled the route before it was blocked by the closed bridge.

“It’s a huge deal for everybody,” he said Tuesday. “It’s a relief for business owners that the flow of traffic they used to see will be back. And seeing it sooner rather than later will be great.”

Work to come

DePaola said that through the end of September, Northern Construction will work to turn the skeleton of beams spanning the Manhan River into a complete bridge. The bridge that workers dismantled in June was 62 years old and deemed structurally deficient by MassDOT inspectors.

In the last week of July, eight precast concrete deck beams — each 93-feet long and weighing 55 tons — were shipped one by one by truck from Vermont to Easthampton. Using beams made off-site speeds up the construction process because workers don’t have to wait for the concrete to dry before doing the next step.

Now that the beams have been dropped into place by a crane, workers can begin Wednesday to pour the final application of concrete that will “tie the beams together and make the bridge one piece,” DePaola said. It must set for a week, and then workers will pour sidewalks, install a waterproof membrane to protect the concrete, lay down the asphalt, and install guardrails and railings. Then, the bridge can be reopened.

“We’ll still probably have another month to work on the shoulder, landscaping, retaining walls, that kind of work will continue,” he said. The traffic lights installed at the intersections of Route 10 with West Street and O’Neill Street will remain in place, even when the detour is no longer needed, to help with the flow of traffic.

The state’s Accelerated Bridge Program has completed 126 projects since its advent in 2008, but DePaola said that the project in Easthampton stands out.

That’s because of the unprecedented level of involvement of the local chamber of commerce, which DePaola said helped keep residents and businesses in Easthampton abreast of work being done.

“That’s the most involved a Chamber has become. It’s a big help to us and a service to the community,” he said. “It could really be something that other communities could emulate in the future.”

Brough said he made weekly calls to his MassDOT contact to get the latest information to disseminate to the over 300 businesses and residents who signed up for the Chamber’s Manhan Bridge newsletter or text alerts. In the early stages of the project, before the bridge closed, that meant warning people to avoid certain areas that were reduced to one lane, or if power might be cut briefly to certain streets.

Once the bridge was closed, the newsletters told people what was being done, from adjusting traffic signal timing on the detour to the actual construction of the new bridge.

“I thought it was an opportunity to keep everybody in the loop about what was going on,” Brough said. “I think the more information everyone has, the better.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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