New Close Date for Pelham Island Road Bridge

This update was provided by Pelham Island resident Gary Slep.

The old bridge spanning the Sudbury River on Pelham Island Road is expected to remain open until June 18, about two months later than originally planned.

According to this update from Pelham Island resident Gary Slep, the new bridge is still expected to open before winter. Slep's complete update is below:

When the Pelham Island bridge project started about one dozen years ago, the state prepared contractual documents for an 18 month construction period, and they retained that period over several bid preparation periods. Islanders were not happy with a project that would take out our small bridge for 1 1/2 years.  Fortunately, the current contract is far more reasonable.

Now I know some of you are concerned that the bridge may be out this winter because of the delay in removing the old bridge. And the date for removal has been moved out again, to Monday, June 18.  But residents should not worry. Part of the delay has been the utilities, and one utility pole still needs to be moved. The problems are that there are large boulders where the pole needs to go, the bank is soft and the slope is sharp making it hard to get equipment to the spot where the pole is to go, and the water has been high in the area until a few days ago. The contractor has worked this out with NStar. The hole will be drilled by AA Will Co. and they will install a 2 ft in diameter pipe and place that in the hole, 8 feet deep.  NStar will then put the pole in the pipe (sleeve). The pole and the others that were set several weeks ago on the West side of the bridge (downstream side) are temporary and will be removed once the bridge project is done. After the bridge is complete, the utility lines and cables will be placed on new poles on the East side of the bridge, where the old poles are today and the temporary utility structure will be removed.

The other reason for the delay has been a proposal made by the contractor to fabricate offsite the sections that will make up the arch of the new bridge. There will 7 or 8 such sections, and they will be precast around rebar support cages, the concrete will be steam dried, and tested before being carted to Wayland. Before the contractor could order the construction of the arch sections, state approval to deviate from the contract plans was required. On Thursday, MassDOT approved the new plan, allowing the fabrication to start immediately. This is good news because this plan allows for a shorter overall construction period and fewer days that the bridge will be out of commission. 

In summary, although the ongoing delay is now about two months -- during which time we have had use of the old bridge -- the end date for reopening the bridge has not changed. The current plan retains a November reopening of the bridge and road. If, for some reason (weather, early winter temperatures, etc.) the bridge is not going to be finished by late November, the contractor will do whatever it can to make the new bridge available anyway, and finish the work in the spring. That may include such punch list items as finishing the concrete sidewalk, final paving of the road surface over the bridge, installing the guard rails leading to and from the four corners of the bridge, etc. But I have been assured that the bridge will be passable this winter.

The contractor will begin work on the 18th of June. They will remove the Bailey Bridge, demolish the old bridge, install coffer dams and drive pilings into the river bed, pour new footings over the pilings, install the new arch sections, install the spandrel and wing walls, grout the walls, backfill, install four end posts and a “Texas Rail” (safety walls on both sides of the bridge overlooking the river), pour the sidewalk and pave the road surface, and install the guard rails. 

The arch fabrication, drying and testing take about four weeks. The contractor expects to begin installing the arch sections by late August.

Please pass on to anyone who needs to know that the bridge closing is now scheduled for June 18th.


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