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Stillwater Bridge repairs quicker than expected

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Mass. Department of Transportation divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Divers prepare to pour cement under a piling of Stillwater Bridge as part of emergency repairs Friday. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO



For the Bulletin
Friday, November 25, 2016

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Emergency repair work has started on Stillwater Bridge, which town officials are hoping will be completed in time to reopen the bridge by the end of the month.

Select Board Chairwoman Carolyn Shores Ness said scour damage beneath the bottom of the north pier was more extensive than first realized, and said closing it last month was the right call.

Last Friday, Nov. 18, work crews brought a concrete mixer with a floatable trough and started pouring underwater, beneath the pier, using heavy bags as forms to keep the concrete contained.

Around 11 a.m., divers could be seen donning red wetsuits, and scuba gear with green bottles. A few workers dropped bags off the pier to the riverbed below.

A few hours later, by 1 p.m., a concrete mixer was on the bridge and had extended the flexible trough down to the water, which divers manipulated into place and the pouring began.

“We’re thrilled the state is working so hard, really thrilled,” Shores Ness said, noting that depending on when pouring is complete and what underwater conditions are, the curing process could take a week or a month.

At a board meeting Nov. 16, Shores Ness made a point to “thank Kevin (Scarborough, Deerfield Public Works operations superintendent) for long hours and outreach to the Department of Transportation.”

The selectwoman said it’s too soon to predict an exact reopening date, but has fingers crossed for the end of the month, if not sooner.

Closed for emergency fix

Stillwater Bridge closed on Oct. 20 after failing a state inspection.

At the time, MassDOT Spokesman Marvin Patrick said “a recent MassDOT underwater inspection of this municipally owned structure revealed scour damage under a spread footing on a pier of this bridge, creating a dangerous washout and potential failure to this pier.”

Patrick noted that the damage wasn’t caused by oversized vehicles, but by water passing beneath.

Initially, town officials anticipated the bridge would remain closed until at least 2020, when a state “preservation project” was scheduled to begin.

However, the state worked with the town to reduce that time down to “at least a few months” soon after.

In addition to providing work crews, the state is also helping to fund the emergency repair project.

South County EMS Director Zach Smith said the ambulance service had agreements with neighboring agencies to cover parts of West Deerfield cut off from normal service routes.

Deerfield Police Officer Adam Sokoloski said the town police and fire departments had made similar arrangements.

Since then, school bus routes have changed, increasing transportation time for West Deerfield students, and farmers who own land on both sides of the river have been forced to detour through Greenfield.

Regardless of when the bridge is reopened, Shores Ness said “it’s getting done, and thank God no one got hurt.”