Ludlow-Wilbraham bridge reopens after nearly three years

(Western Mass News photo)

Plenty of drivers are enjoying the satisfaction of driving over the Red Bridge - which connects several western Massachusetts cities and towns - for the first time in nearly three years today.

The bridge was deemed unsafe by the DPW, and with it now back in action, drivers and first responders can now use it to make seconds count.

Driving over a bridge hasn't felt better for Ludlow and Wilbraham residents alike.

The Red Bridge, known also as the East Street Bridge, is open for traffic.

Over time, the supports deteriorated and made the road too dangerous for travel.

The Wilbraham DPW told Western Mass News that they've been trying to get it fixed since 2009, but they lacked the funds to repair it.

It was finally shut down in 2015 and MassDOT stepped in to handle the $2 million project.

Their goal was November 27. They reopened it at 9 a.m. Friday - nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

For local businesses down the street, the flood gates have opened.

"It's nice to see people coming by again. It was so dead at one point with no traffic and nobody coming in, but people are stopping now, traffic is coming by, it's good, it's a good thing," said Paul Bianco with Leo's Glassworks.

The bridge gives Ludlow access to some much needed mutual aid in a fire, giving them a faster response and a better chance to save lives.

"That particular part of town is a little isolated. It doesn't have hydrants, so we always rely on mutual aid, and Wilbraham water supplies on that side," said Ludlow Fire Capt. Ricky Machado.

Machado became captain of the Lludlow fire department just as the bridge was closing. Now, fire crews can rely on each other to get victims to the hospital and put fires out on the spot.

About a third of the emergency calls go to Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer.

This bridge will make all the difference.

"The Three Rivers guys have a great department out there, Palmer, and when we invite them into town, that is obviously the quickest route and they help us out tremendously," Machado added.

Neighbors told Western Mass News they are so happy it's open. They came to the bridge today with cameras in hand, wondering where the ribbon would be cut.

That ceremony comes to the Red Bridge on November 27 at 10 a.m Those involved in the funding of the project are expected to attend.

Drivers are urged to take caution on Ventura Street now that the bridge is open to two-way traffic.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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