EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 16, 2013

Traffic nuisance to continue into school year

Rocks Village Bridge opening delayed a month, into school year

HAVERHILL — Originally scheduled to be completed by late August, repairs to the Rocks Village Bridge will take a month longer than expected.

State transportation officials said the discovery of very small cracks in a key component of the span linking Haverhill and West Newbury required more work than expected.

The delay means vehicles which would normally use the bridge, including school buses, must continue using alternate routes until late September, when the bridge is expected to reopen. Students riding buses to nearby Whittier Regional High will face longer rides than usual during that first month of school.

The historic bridge, built in 1883 and rebuilt in 1914, is used by many residents in the Haverhill, West Newbury and Merrimac area, as well as those in southern New Hampshire communities such as Atkinson and Newton.

The state closed the bridge to traffic on June 18 of last year to begin work on the $13.1 million renovation. Drivers who used the 812-foot span have been forced be forced to find alternate routes.

Whittier Regional High had to change several of its bus routes during the last school year due to the bridge being closed. Whittier Superintendent William DeRosa said the change impacted six Whittier buses that formerly crossed the bridge in the morning and again in the afternoon.

DeRosa said his transportation coordinator devised a plan put into effect last fall, resulting in buses traveling Route 110 to Amesbury, with one or more of those buses traveling Interstate 95 to Georgetown. Whittier officials said until the bridge reopens, the buses will continue using those same alternate routes.

Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said the project involves a combination of replacing and repairing structural components because of the bridge’s historic significance.

“One of the components that was proposed to be rehabilitated was the ‘track chair,’’’ Verseckes said.

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