Bridge replacement work begins on vital trucking route between Lee, Lenox Dale

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LEE — A $2.8 million replacement bridge vital to a commercial development along the Lee-Lenox border is taking shape over the Housatonic River.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation expects that the steel trusses and bearings needed to build the span will arrive this month, officials have told The Eagle. The project that began in June 2018 is scheduled to wrap up a year from now.

The river crossing links six businesses on Valley Street in Lee with Crystal Street in Lenox Dale — the only viable truck route to the industrial complex owned by LB Corp. of Lee.

"This is a very important project. You're talking about 120 jobs at businesses that are very valuable to the local workforce," said LB Corp. Vice President Steve Garrity.

MassDOT spokeswoman Judith Reardon says that with new abutments and concrete supports in place, the contractor can begin construction of the bridge.

On Monday, state transportation officials informed LB Corp. that the steel construction is scheduled for Aug. 1 through Aug. 3. Work will be done on that Thursday and Friday night and during the day on Saturday, "so the businesses across the bridge would not be impacted," Reardon said.

During that three-day stretch, only traffic accessing the businesses will be detoured by being rerouted over Woodlawn Road.

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"We do not anticipate having to close Crystal Street to through traffic at this time," said Reardon.

The contractor, Northern Construction of Palmer, is erecting a new single-lane prefabricated steel truss on a concrete deck just north and at about a 45-degree angle to the existing bridge. MassDOT engineers have said repositioning the new bridge is needed to improve safety for today's longer tractor-trailers.

The existing span, built in the 1890s, had its deck replaced in 1983. LB Corp. made temporary upgrades three years ago to keep the structure open during construction with an unlimited weight capacity.

In 2016, MassDOT found the bridge structurally deficient and in poor condition, primarily due to corroded floor beams.

The rest of the project includes installing the concrete deck, completing the drainage system, finishing approach work on both sides of the bridge and razing the old crossing after the new one opens.

Water and sewer lines will be relocated along the new bridge and allow for foot traffic.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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