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State officials say financial incentives key to finishing Easthampton bridge ahead of schedule

The Route 10 bridge over the Manhan River reopened last week after a 144-day reconstruction project.

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

The Route 10 bridge over the Manhan River reopened last week after a 144-day reconstruction project. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

EASTHAMPTON — Four days after the Route 10 bridge over the Manhan River reopened, city and state officials at the site had only positive things to say about the year-long project to rebuild the structure.

“Listen to those cars go over that. That’s a very smooth ride,” state Department of Transportation Highway Administrator Frank DePaola said Monday at the bridge that was closed for reconstruction beginning June 3 until Thursday.

MassDOT officials promised that the bridge would be closed for no more than six months and Northern Construction of Weymouth completed the $3.75 million project in less than five months.

DePaola and other MassDOT officials visited the bridge to talk with city officials about the reopening of the bridge and what remains to be done.

He explained that while the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program has been very successful in cutting construction times by using materials precast off-site, financial incentives are the key to getting the bridges reopened ahead of schedule.

“It gets them to focus on those delivery dates,” he said. “So far, every time we’ve offered these incentives to the contractor, they’ve earned the full incentive.”

Northern Construction’s contract stated that it could get a $3,350 bonus for every day the bridge was open ahead of the six-month schedule, up to 30 days. It could have been penalized $3,350 for every day if it opened late.

By finishing the project more than 30 days before the Dec. 3 deadline, Northern Construction earned the maximum incentive of $100,500, DePaola said. Workers were allowed to work six days a week and 10 hours per day to meet the goal.

Northern Construction workers are no longer on site and the bridge looked finished Monday, but DePaola said that Verizon workers would be there for a few weeks to relocate utilities. That will involve using a manhole on the bridge’s north side, and could hold up traffic for short periods of time, he said.

“Other than that, there’s just landscaping,” DePaola said. Grass has been seeded on the southern bank of the river near the Highway Garage driveway. He said that in the spring, workers will do more seeding and also plant trees on the north bank.

State Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, said the bridge is “a classic example of how government works.”

“We keep hearing about how the government in Washington (D.C.) doesn’t work, and this is how it does work,” he said. “When the mayor and I first met with MassDOT about this project, the timeline was one year, then it became six months.”

“Every day it’s open early is better for the businesses,” Scibak said.

District 1 City Councilor Daniel C. Hagan said his constituents who live in the neighborhood are pleased the bridge is reopened with the permanent traffic signal that was installed at the intersection of Northampton and West streets as part of the project. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

James “JP” Kwiecinski, an at-large City Council candidate, who was also at the bridge, said he lobbied to get a traffic signal installed there nine years ago, when he was the district’s city councilor. A Gazette study of state crash data for 2010 found the intersection was one of the most dangerous in the area.

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

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