Work on Bay Road bridge in Hadley nears end


Staff Writer
Thursday, August 31, 2017

HADLEY — A Bay Road bridge that has been reduced to one lane for the past 18 months should be fully reopened within the next few weeks, according to state and local officials.

Town Administrator David Nixon said the project to shore up the timber pilings on the bridge that carries traffic over the Fort River is nearing the finish line.

“Weather conditions permitting, they should be wrapping up in the next three weeks,” Nixon said.

Patrick Marvin, a spokesman for Massachusetts Department of Transportation, confirmed this.

MassDOT crews first did repairs on the south side of the bridge, and have now switched to the north side. In addition to one lane of travel, the project has featured weight limits restricting heavy vehicles over 3 tons.

A traffic signal was installed in February 2016 to safely allow alternating traffic to use the one lane on the bridge, though this caused some backups on both Bay and Lawrence Plain roads. The work was originally supposed to be done in a few months, but the pilings were discovered to be in worse condition than anticipated, causing delays in the project.

The bridge, constructed in 1935, remains on the state’s schedule for a complete rebuild. Marvin said the $5.7 million bridge replacement project should be advertised in 2020.

Other projects

Meanwhile, Nixon said other state road projects are in progress.

This fall, a crosswalk on Route 9 in front of the Franklin-Hampshire Counties Juvenile Court will be restriped and get a signal to give pedestrians better visibility.

The state is also planning to widen Route 9 from Middle Street east to South Maple Street, at an estimated cost of $22.5 million. That project comes after last year’s widening of the road from Middle Street to West Street, during which the town also upgraded century-old water pipes.

Marvin said this project is in the early planning stages and MassDOT has held coordination meetings with town officials and others, but it has not yet reached 25 percent design.

“The current plan for the project would involve a three-lane design, with a center turn lane, and include separate facilities for both pedestrian and bicycle accommodations,” Marvin said.

That would occur after the reconfiguring of Route 9’s intersection with Damon Road in Northampton, a chokepoint during the afternoon commute that leads to extensive backups in Hadley. That intersection, where vehicles exiting northbound Interstate 91 also converge, will become a two-lane roundabout.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.