SHEFFIELD — Already nearly a year overdue, work on the Route 7 bridge north of the town center is finally set to get underway Oct. 1, according to state transportation officials.
But depending on weather conditions, the project may not be completed until the spring.
In a letter to state Rep. Williams "Smitty" Pignatelli, a representative from the state Department of Transportation cautioned that on Dec. 15, the MassDOT will assess the project and the weather conditions to determine if the work can continue. If not, MassDOT will shut the project down until early 2017.
The project initially was scheduled to be completed in November 2015.
After being informed that town officials had not been notified as of Monday, Pignatelli said he was "disappointed [MassDOT] didn't reach out to the town."
The contract has been awarded to JH Maxymillian Construction of Pittsfield, Pignatelli said.
Maxymillian will begin the procurement phase for two new pre-cast bridge beams, according to the letter. MassDOT expects the delivery of these beams to be on or about Dec. 1. In the interim, crews will begin work temporarily relocating an existing water line for the Sheffield Water Co.
Once the beams are installed, a new concrete deck and railing system will be installed. But if weather conditions are unfavorable, the letter notes, the project will shut down for the winter.
The bridge is presently reduced to one-way with a temporary stoplight system regulating the traffic. What nettled the selectmen was that more than 1,200 commuters, according to MassDOT, use the bridge daily.
Pignatelli said it was his understanding that part of the delay was because the portion of the bridge that is now closed, "was just so badly deteriorated that it was possible they may have had to close the whole bridge.
"So they had to take another look at what they were going to do to repair the bridge," he said. "I'm taking the side of the state on this. They erred on the side of caution."
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.