Someone had asked me recently if I could post something on the progress of the Route 91 bridge construction that crosses over East Street in Easthampton, since I'm often up that way. We were in the area again last weekend, so we stopped to take a good look.
The bridge is actually being reconstructed, not repaired, and has been in the process since early 2007. Not long into the work, in mid 2007, it ran into a 2 month delay because of design issues. Since then construction's been apparently proceeding smoothly, with the occasional bottleneck up on the highway. A lot of the work is done at night to prevent traffic jams though, which has wreaked havoc on the sleeping habits of the families living right nearby.
The old bridge was literally falling apart; It's a good thing they're reconstructing and not repairing.
According to Mass Highway, the project costs over 11 million dollars, is 65% complete, and is still going to take almost another year to complete; due for next October sometime...
One unnerving feature of the work is the use of wooden blocks to help support the structure.
...but I'm sure they know what they're doing. ...(cough)...
By next October we should have a sleek, sturdy new bridge to pass over and under unnoticed, for years to come.
One thing I hope doesn't wait for next October are the repairs to the Manhan Rail Trail. With the leaves off the trees, the famous 'dip' in the road can be seen from East Street. I've read that the repairs might cost around $400,000. That's right. 400 Grand. Here's an exchange from the MassLive Easthampton Forums back in September and October discussing the apparently high cost:
(The first guy raises the question we all are asking...)
newowner1: How can dropping in a pipe filling in the hole with dirt and laying tar cost 400,000? Goverment Job?
(to which this guys replies, sounding like he knows what he's talking about...)
HarleyRdKng: You'll need to start with a civil engineer before you touch anything. Then you will shore up the edges to stabilize the area for construction equipment. You've got at least 100cu yds of displaced soil to remove as well as widening the trench and removing the culvert 25' below grade. It's not exactly a water pipe 6' below the street. You are likely limited to the equipment that the rail trail can handle, if not in weight, certainly in dimension unless your bid includes repaving a mile of rail trail. There is only one way in from Rt 5 side without creating an access road. That could mean large equipment will have to back in vs drive. Considering the 25' of dead load and live load above the culvert, it might involve something a little more than a corrugated steel culvert pipe. Maybe $400k is a high figure, but it'll take a little more than a skid steer and the city's 8yd dump truck to fix that hole.
(and finally this guy comes up with some firmer numbers...)
retirednow: I believe the $400,000 estimate was contained in a letter quoting the cost of design and guessing on the scope of the project, the design quote was $50,000. The actual cost to fix the hole will be the lowest bid received for the work. That price will be set by the private contractor who gets the job.
The remote location of the sinkhole has been an issue from the beginning. I've heard and read several mentions of two possible ways to get in to fix it: from Route 5 on one end of the trail, and Fort Hill road going towards the other end. But both entry ways have problems associated which would contribute to the high cost. Another way in is from nearby East Street. The hole is only a few hundred feet from East Street, and through an empty lot. But, an easement to allow access through the property could cost $20,000 alone. That's pretty steep, but it seems like the way to go. Jeez, you can see it from the road.
There's even a path with enough room to drive vehicles right to the hole.
So far, how to obtain all the money needed is still a mystery, and now it might not be too high on Easthampton or the state's list of priorities, given the economic hail storm that's coming. It might just be up to local fundraising to get the job done.
The Friends Of The Manhan Rail Trail are already trying...