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I-91 repair needs another two months Additional deterioration found on bridge over Route 5

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>

    JERREY ROBERTS
    The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Northampton motorists traveling north on I-91 in Northampton must take the Exit 20 on-ramp near the intersection of Damon Road and King Street. Northbound raffic was stalled on King Street to Carlton Drive during rush hour Wednesday.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Northampton motorists traveling north on I-91 in Northampton must take the Exit 20 on-ramp near the intersection of Damon Road and King Street. Northbound raffic was stalled on King Street to Carlton Drive during rush hour Wednesday. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>The I-91 Exit 18 on-ramp in Northampton remains closed Wednesday.<br/>
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Northampton motorists traveling north on I-91 in Northampton must take the Exit 20 on-ramp near the intersection of Damon Road and King Street. Northbound raffic was stalled on King Street to Carlton Drive during rush hour Wednesday.

An emergency bridge repair on I-91 north forced the state Department of Transportation to close the passing lane as well as the on-ramp on May 22. The project was initially estimated to take around a month to complete, but after the design took longer than expected, it was delayed until after the July 4 weekend.

But after the original repairs were completed, another inspection found additional deterioration on the portion of the bridge over the railroad that runs parallel to Route 5, again delaying the re-opening of the on-ramp DOT spokesman Michael Verseckes said in an email Wednesday .

“We fully realize this is an inconvenience to folks, however, it is important that we address deficiencies found to ensure our roads and bridges are safe for travel,” he wrote.

He added that the repairs are now being designed, and new parts for the bridge are being built off-site.

“While it may not appear that there is work occurring physically on the bridge, the repairs are underway,” he said.

In order to get to I-91 north, motorists must travel through the busy intersection at the center of downtown and on King Street to the Exit 20 on-ramp.

On Wednesday, Simon Bousel, head cook at One Bar & Grill at the corner where Pearl Street meets Pleasant, not only sees the traffic crawl outside his business, but gets to experience it on the way to his second job doing park maintenance in Greenfield.

“It definitely adds 10 minutes to everyone’s day,” said Bousel, of Northampton, who has waited in traffic on Pleasant Street for as long as 15 minutes.

Steven Campbell, general manager at McLadden’s Irish Publick House, said that though he lives in Easthampton and is not regularly affected by the on-ramp’s closure, he has noticed the other roadwork in Northampton affects his employees coming from the north.

Still, he added, “It’s good the roads are getting fixed. You deal with what you have to deal with.”

Chris Tinson, assistant professor of African-American Studies at Hampshire College, said he has regularly commuted from his home in Holyoke this summer to work on writing projects in Northampton coffee shops. He said that though he usually just beats the morning and afternoon rushes, he has been caught in traffic on I-91 north a couple times when workers were on the bridge.

But as cars slowed to a stop outside the window at Northampton Coffee Wednesday evening, he said with a laugh that having grown up in Los Angeles, he is not easily fazed by heavy traffic.

“If it’s a good reason why they’re taking forever (to complete the repairs), then I’m OK with that,” he said.

Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at gmangiaratti@gazettenet.com.

Legacy Comments5

Quit whining folks. Do you want the bridge fixed properly or not? If the damage is more extensive than originally thought, that's just how repairs often are, especially when maintenance has been deferred.

There has been no work done on this project since the DOT set up their giant jenga game almost 3 MONTHS AGO. If the problem is this severe, why is the road open at all? The ramp does not need any repairs so the damage must be to the bridge. Why is it safe for vehicles to drive over this section?

Sort of amazing that they are just now finding more damage to this section of I-91. Deterioration like this suggests that this bridge, and others like it on I-91, need to be inspected on a more frequent basis - so that damaged sections don't require emergency repairs. Maintenance needs to be performed before this bridge deteriorates to a point that requires an "emergency repair."

They couldn't find the damage the first time they looked at the bridge?

That was the first thing I thought when I heard this. So frustrating. Who do we complain to about this? On May 22nd they said it'd take a month. Now they say 6-8 more weeks. By my calculation, that's 5 months. If I told my boss I'd have something for him in a week, but didn't get it to him for 5 weeks, I'd probably be fired in the third week. Where's the accountability?

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