Southampton lands $1M for bridge work

  • The East Street and Bridge Project. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SOUTHAMPTON — Backed by a $1 million state grant announced Tuesday, the town is poised to move forward with what officials said is a long-needed repair of the 90-year-old East Street Bridge.

“It’s a major corridor in town,” Southampton Select Board Chairman Charlie Kaniecki said.

Southampton is one of 10 communities to receive a combined $8.5 million in MassWorks grants to improve or rebuild a variety of infrastructure.

East Street connects Route 10 in downtown Southampton to Holyoke, crossing the Manhan River. The town’s Select Board has expressed a desire to rebuild the bridge for several years, having sought a rebuild in 2009.

The board has had concerns about the bridge’s narrowness — it does not have a sidewalk or shoulder, and traffic could bottleneck — and degrading railing, but the bridge was ineligible for Transportation Improvement Program money because it was not structurally deficient enough.

Now, however, the Baker-Polito administration has awarded Southampton $1 million through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to rebuild the bridge. Gov. Charlie Baker called the program “an important resource for cities and towns pursuing projects that drive local job growth and economic development” while announcing the grants on Tuesday.

“Here we have the award, next step is to contact the engineers to move forward on design plans for the bridge. That will take at least a few months,” Kaniecki said. “The hope is — and the key word really is hope — to begin construction in the spring.”

Kaniecki said that state Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, was instrumental in securing the grant money, and, by working with Kocot’s office, the town was able to “move the project forward.”

“This is going to enhance that whole area of the town,” Kaniecki said.

After the bridge’s construction, the town will try and rebuild the rest of East Street. According to Kaniecki, the MassWorks grant money for the bridge will help Southampton attract more money from the state in order to redo the entire street.

Other towns to receive MassWorks money are Boxborough, Chester, Colrain, Monroe, Mount Washington, Oakham, Rowe, Southampton, Stockbridge and Warren.

Colrain has received $1 million, while Rowe has received $420,000 for bridge and roadway improvements.

In Colrain, the money will be used to support the replacement of two town-owned bridges — the Adamsville Road Bridge, which is in imminent danger of failing, and the Call Road Bridge, which was previously closed in 2016 due to deterioration. Both routes are critical for first responders, school buses and residents, providing vital services for the community.

Rowe will replace the Cyrus Stage Bridge, which serves as a vital route for emergency vehicles and as a connection point to Heath. The bridge is currently rated poorly by the state Department of Transportation, and the town is contributing money for engineering and design costs.

The Recorder contributed to this report.