LEE -- The cost of a crucial bridge repair project has hit a $55,000 bump in the road.
That's how much more it's going to cost to complete the project in light of an unexpected switch to another contractor, according to town officials.
The board on July 1 hired L B Corp. of Lee at the low bid of $460,500 to furbish the Willow Street span over the Housatonic River that links Onyx Specialty Papers and Route 102 in South Lee. However, the company recently notified the town in writing it couldn't accept the job because it was unable to find a state-approved painting subcontractor for the project.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation requires a contractor with the ability to remove lead paint from the bridge according to state environmental regulations.
This week, the board voted to go with the other, more qualified bidder, Northern Construction Service of Weymouth, at a cost of $515,000.
Town Administrator Robert Nason said the town will tap additional Chapter 90 state highway funds it aside for municipal bridge work to cover the shortfall. The bridge will remain open during construction.
Town and Onyx officials have said the bridge provides the only safe passage for truck traffic to the plant that employs 160 people and operates on a six-day work week.
Refurbishment of the span includes structural repairs to the deteriorating trusses, deck repairs, drainage improvements and the removal of the sidewalk, which has been closed to pedestrian traffic since late 2012.
In November 2012, the state DOT gave Lee the green light for the bridge rehabilitation due, in part, to the economic importance of the span.
MassDOT ordered the bridge sidewalk closed over structural deficiencies, but allowed it to remain open to all vehicular traffic, especially to the mill.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233