STOCKBRIDGE — Work is expected to resume this spring to restore a failing 90-year-old bridge on Route 183 that has been closed for nearly a year, forcing extensive detours from a key, heavily traveled connection between Stockbridge and Lenox.
The span just north of Berkshire Botanical Garden at the Route 102 intersection is going back out to bid for expert, prequalified applicants, after problems that developed with the previous contractor, contributing to a shake-up in the town Highway Department’s leadership.
In a briefing for the Select Board, Town Administrator Michael Canales described the troubled project as “definitely the most difficult one, because of the stage it was in — what was completed, what wasn’t completed and just getting it realigned so it can be.”
The $2.6 million bridge restoration project, designed six years ago, is funded by $1.5 million in state grants, with the rest from a town bond and a transfer from stabilization reserves.
Bids are expected to be awarded in early April, Canales said. “If we can keep the timing where it is now, the plan is to have it completed over this construction season this fall,” he said.
The “aggressive schedule” anticipates reopening the repaired bridge in October, if weather is favorable, or by Thanksgiving if not, he pointed out.
He acknowledged that the bidding procedure for the project “is a very tricky one, and we’re not sure how it will play out. We should know very shortly.”
Work is expected to begin in late May or early June, “with a push through the summer,” Canales told the Select Board.
Route 183 (West Street in Lenox; Interlaken Road in Stockbridge) is a key link for motorists heading from Stockbridge and points south to Tanglewood, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Berkshire Country Day School, residences in the Interlaken neighborhood, and to downtown Lenox, and vice versa.
Annual state Department of Transportation inspection reports had described severe deficiencies afflicting the bridge built in 1931 over Larrywaug Brook. In May 2016, state inspectors deemed the bridge “in danger of imminent failure,” rating it as a 3 on a 10-point scale, meaning that it was close to being shut down. Two detours, in place since June, are available for drivers heading southbound on Route 183 from Lenox: one over Hawthorne Road, which segues into Mahkeenac Road and Prospect Hill Road heading into downtown Stockbridge. The second, before the bridge, reroutes southbound traffic to Larrywaug Crossroad toward downtown.
For northbound drivers at the intersection of Routes 102 and 183, message boards signal a detour eastbound to the business district of Stockbridge.
Details and maps depicting the detours are available at townofstockbridge.com.
Canales also reported that the $2.5 million rebuild of the town’s highway garage is nearing completion as a new roofing system is installed because of a leak discovered in the previously rebuilt roof.
A low bid is under review for the $800,000 Averic Road bridge repair off Route 183 in the Interlaken neighborhood, already funded by the town, he noted.