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Bridge could reopen critical travel link in Great Barrington by late summer

Division Street bridge (copy)

Don VanTassel fishes for smallmouth bass under the Division Street Bridge. Great Barrington plans to install a modular temporary bridge until the state can overhaul the existing bridge, shut in 2019 after an inspection revealed that it was too dangerous for traffic. The modular bridge will be substantially completed by the end of summer, officials say.

GREAT BARRINGTON — A new, one-lane temporary bridge could reopen the full length of Division Street later this summer, nearly three years after a sudden shutdown of the old town-owned span.

The timing of the demolition of the old bridge and the installation of the modular bridge is on schedule, said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski. It requires one final review from the state Department of Transportation, but he’s not anticipating any glitches, he added.

“Our conceptual design was approved very early on in this project so we’re not expecting any problems to surface,” he said.

Pruhenski said the town would see “substantial completion later this summer.”

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The state in 2019 deemed the critical town artery unsafe. The shutdown created havoc for residents and businesses who relied on the east/west Housatonic River crossing to easily go from one side of town to the other. One business off Division Street, Taft Farm, struggled the most. The farm has fields on one side of the river, and its farm store on the other, for example.

Responding to public outcry, officials settled on the modular bridge solution to speed up permitting and construction. A permanent bridge is dependent on federal funds.

Before the state closed the bridge, voters had approved $4 million for the permanent bridge, since inspectors had previously rated it structurally deficient. That money was redirected to the current project.

The span between state routes 183 and 41 was built in 1950.

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

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