92 bridges deemed structurally deficient in western Mass. accord - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

92 bridges deemed structurally deficient in western Mass. according to DOT records

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CHARLEMONT, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

There are more than 54,000 bridges in the United States that need to be repaired or replaced.

That's according to a recent study released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association; a group that advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure.

Western Mass News Investigates gathered data on all of the bridges in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties.
 
Roughly 9 percent of U.S. bridges are categorized as structurally deficient, which means at least one key structure is in poor condition.
 
"If any one of them is rated below a 4 out of 9, the bridge is classified as structurally deficient," a MassDOT Spokesperson said. 
 
Western Mass News requested public records from the MassDOT to find out how many of these are here in the Pioneer Valley. 

Out of 985 bridges total, 92 of them are structurally deficient.

14 percent of bridges in Franklin County, 6 percent in Hampden County, and 9 percent in Hampshire County.

The MassDOT accepts bids for construction and advertises the opportunity to potential contractors.
 
In Holyoke, work-related activities could begin some time in 2019 for the Lyman Street bridge. 

Another structurally deficient bridge in Belchertown that is also maintained by the MassDOT, has been closed for years.
 
"It's an eye sore and it is dangerous now because it's falling apart so much," said Belchertown resident Eileen Klockars. 
 
A spokesperson for the MassDOT said the bridge is expected to be removed this summer.

The average life expectancy of a bridge is about 70 years, and according to Charlemont's Highway Department, the bridge is well over that.
 
"There's bridges all over the county that are in need. Infrastructure is really in bad shape," said Charlemont Highway Superintendent, Gordon Hathaway.
 
The bridge on West Oxbow Road in Charlemont got a zero rating for its deck, superstructure, substructure, and deemed structurally deficient in 2015.

The town of Charlemont's Highway Department maintains that bridge and installed a temporary replacement in 2015.
 
"Emergency measures were taken," said Hathaway. 
 
West Oxbow Road resident John Hoffman said he's grateful for the short-term bridge because when it was closed down, people living here had to drive around on an unpaved road to get to Route 2.  

"That road is sometimes not in good condition. It's subject to even more mud problems than our roads here are. It would be nice to have a permanent bridge," said Hoffman. 
 
Hathaway thinks so too, but said the process is intense.
 
"There's a lot of hoops to jump through and permitting and availability of the temporary bridge that's there," Hathaway continued. 
 
The replacement, he said--could cost well over a million dollars.

According to the DOT, a replacement project is in the design stage for this bridge, and is expected to be advertised for bids in November 2019.
 
"We had the flood in '38, which wiped out many of the bridges or damaged them at least. We just need more money. Our roads are falling apart, our bridges are falling apart, and now they gotta all be fixed at once," Hathaway added.

Earlier this month, Senator Eric Lesser voted to secure nearly $8.5 million in state aid for roads and bridges in our region.

Among those communities listed that Belchertown will receive more than $600,000.

The legislation will eventually go to Governor Charlie Baker for final approval.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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