| Sarah Heinonen
EAST LONGMEADOW/HAMPDEN – Bridges around the state need repair, and thanks to the Municipal Small Bridge Program, East Longmeadow and Hampden will be able to repair their bridges that much sooner.
On July 14, state Rep. Brian Ashe announced that a bridge in each of those towns, as well as one in neighboring Monson, would receive funding through the Municipal Small Bridge Program. East Longmeadow received $500,000 to repair the Porter Road bridge over the South Branch Mill River.
“This funding is a benefit to the town as it allows us to move forward on this project without impacting the tax rate. Other capital projects are being funded by the use of ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funds,” East Longmeadow Town Manager Mary McNally said.
East Longmeadow received the funding on July 13 and the bidding process will begin in September. “Construction will more than likely begin in the spring of 2023,” said Bruce Feeney, director of East Longmeadow Department of Public Works (DPW). This is the only town-owned bridge identified as currently in need of repair.
The same is not true in Hampden, which has multiple bridge projects in the works. The town received $100,000 to fix the South Road bridge over Ballard Brook. Hampden Town Administrator Bob Markel explained that, aside from that project, there are two other town bridges in need of work. One is on Rock-a-Dundee Road.
“Rock-a-Dundee [Road] will be entirely paid for by the state. We do not have a cost estimate because they have not determined if the bridge can be repaired or if the MassDOT [Massachusetts Department of Transportation] will need to replace it,” Markel said. The East Main Street bridge is also in need of work and is in the design stage. Markel estimated that bridge to cost about $3 million.
“We hope to get state grants to cover the costs for the three bridges,” Markel said.
To be eligible for the program, a bridge must be part of a public way owned by a city or town and be on the State Bridge Inventory. A “small bridge” is one with a span between 10 and 20 feet. Municipalities can receive grants to offset the cost of design or of the construction process. The program will distribute $95 million for bridge work across the state over the next five years. Projects, whether they be replacement, rehabilitation or preservation of bridges, are chosen based on need and merit.
Ashe commented, “These funds will go a long way to ensuring the infrastructure of our communities does not fail us. It is imperative that we fund our roads and bridges to keep everyone safe and allow for easy access to surrounding towns. Investing in our infrastructure is a top priority for the legislature and this is one of many investments that will be made.”
To learn more about the Municipal Small Bridge Program at http://www.mass.gov/municipal-small-bridge-program.