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Route 10 bridge expected to close in June for replacement

Workers in March work near the intersection of Northampthon and West streets in preparation of the replacement of the nearby bridge over the Manhan River. Northampton Street is expected to close for six months starting in June.

JERREY ROBERTS

Workers in March work near the intersection of Northampthon and West streets in preparation of the replacement of the nearby bridge over the Manhan River. Northampton Street is expected to close for six months starting in June. JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

— The Northampton Street bridge over the Manhan River will close in June and remain closed for six months as part of a project to replace the 62-year-old span, according to a State Department of Transportation representative.

That’s contrary to the department’s initial estimates last fall that it would be closed by now.

“We are several months away from the Manhan Bridge closure,” MassDOT Press Secretary Sarah Lavoie said in an email to the Gazette this week.

School officials expressed concern at a September public forum on the project that a spring closure would mean having to redesign school bus routes in the middle of the school year, and they still might have to.

“School goes to the end of June, so it’s still possible there could be some impact from this,” Mayor Michael A. Tautznik said. He said the bus contractor is working with school officials and MassDOT to come up with new routes for the fall, too.

He said the project, part of the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program, employs “cutting-edge bridge technology.” The replacement process is sped up because instead of pouring the concrete bridge in place and having to wait for each pour to dry, crews bring in and install finished pieces of concrete.

Still, the entire project is expected to take 16 months, including the work that started in December to prepare the bridge area for construction. Vehicles will be able to use the bridge during those 16 months with the exception of the six month period when the bridge will be reconstructed. The construction company faces a fine of $3,350 for each day the bridge is closed past the deadline, per their contract with MassDOT.

Since December, workers from Northern Construction have been preparing the bridge area, including working on the bridge’s substructure and relocating utility lines.

“Once relocation is complete, the bridge will close to traffic and a detour will be in place along Pleasant and O’Neill streets,” Lavoie said.

Lavoie said MassDOT has been working closely with the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, which has volunteered to help get information about the project to the public. The chamber has been sending out monthly newsletters about the work and offers text alerts to residents who want updates on last-minute road closures and other developments.

According to the chamber’s Thursday newsletter, the intersection of Northampton and O’Neill streets is the next area to see construction work and traffic delays, possibly for up to a month. Crews will be doing utility work and installing traffic signals and crosswalks. Traffic lights are already installed at the intersection of Pleasant and Ferry streets, but not at the intersection of Northampton and West streets.

The temporary pedestrian bridge is also likely to be installed soon, the newsletter states. Because large cranes put the bridge in place, that may require the bridge to be closed for a day.

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

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