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GREAT BARRINGTON — Sped-up permitting and emergency repairs will likely have the Division Street bridge open for motorists by next summer, town officials said Monday.

And the town might also be eligible for up to $12 million in state money to eventually replace the span for the long term, Town Manager Mark Pruhenski told the Select Board.

The sudden shutdown of the bridge on Sept. 5 cut off a critical east/west artery that threw up obstacles for businesses and residents. It created problems that also radiated to other towns.

The town-owned bridge, built in 1950, had been deteriorating for years due to deferred maintenance and wear and tear from high use, but also, nearby residents say, from excessive heavy truck traffic.

The bridge had been on the state Department of Transportation's list of structurally deficient bridges, but another inspection last year found it too unsafe for traffic.

Replacement was estimated to take up to three years, mostly due to extensive environmental permitting. But Pruhenski contacted state officials, who agreed to put the bridge on a fast track for repairs that would open it at the same limited load level as it was when it was shut down, which would bar heavy trucks from using it.

Pruhenski said the town's engineers have finished 60 percent of the emergency plan, and the town will put the project out to bid this fall.

Voters had approved $4 million to fix the bridge at the May 2019 annual town meeting.

The cost of the replacement depends on a number of factors, including whether the state decides to take on the project, according to Sean Van Deusen, the town's Department of Public Works director.

If the state pays for that replacement, it would do the work itself, and would likely be a larger project, estimated from between $12 million and $15 million, he said.

If the town contracts the replacement, the cost likely would run between $4 million and $7 million, depending on the final design and the contractor.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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