Wednesday June 13, 2012

LEE -- By summer's end, the town hopes to install a temporary bridge to replace a damaged one the state ordered closed three months ago.

The interim span on Meadow Street over Powder Mill Brook could be in place by Sept. 1, according to Lee Public Works Superintendent Christopher Pompi.

Town Administrator Robert Nason noted the project moving is pending approval from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

"The design for the temporary bridge has been completed and sent to MassDOT for review," Nason said.

In mid-March, the town, at the recommendation of MassDOT, blocked off the bridge because of a two-foot hole in its decking.

Earlier in the year, state bridge inspectors found structural problems underneath the bridge and damage to the abutment, in part caused by Tropical Storm Irene in late August, town officials have said.

Until a new, permanent bridge can be built, the state has agreed to loan the town a temporary span for free with taxpayers paying for its $50,000 design and installation, Nason said.

Pompi noted the short-term bridge will be one lane and able to handle the heavy truck traffic that frequents Meadow Street. He believes that an overweight truck punched the hole through the surface of the 80-foot span that has a maximum weight limit posted at 15 tons.

Meadow Street is a popular shortcut for local traffic between Route 102 in South Lee and Main Road in Tyringham via Tyringham Road in Lee.


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Several Meadow Street residents who live east of the bridge have advocated for a temporary bridge to avoid taking a five-mile detour in order to travel west on Route 102.

As for a new bridge, town officials expect it will take at least three years, working with state highway engineers, to develop plans for a permanent replacement span. Nason noted the town has retained a Needham engineering firm for $75,000 to design the new bridge.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.