By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — This has been the year of the bridge in Haverhill. Yet another bridge is causing concerns in Haverhill, the small Ferry Road Bridge in Ward Hill, and neighbors want to know when it will reopen after it has been closed for some time.
A major renovation of the structure, which spans the MBTA train tracks just west of Route 125, began in the fall of 2011.
The project is finally nearing completion, according to Michael Verseckes, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, or MassDOT.
Verseckes said the original completion date was April of this year, but during construction, the contractor encountered some subsurface conditions that differed from what was expected. He said there were also some unforeseen utility relocations.
“Both of these accounted for the additional time required to complete the project,” he said.
Remaining work includes the installation of guardrail, concrete sidewalks on the east side of the bridge, final paving and pavement markings. Verseckes said the bridge is expected to open early next month, but could open at the end of this month if the weather cooperates.
Residents who live in that section of Ward Hill and have had to use posted detours will soon be able to use their old route and cross a safer and more sturdy bridge than the old wooden bridge it replaced.
According to MassDOT, work included the removal of the existing bridge and the construction of a new bridge on a new alignment for better sight distance. Work also included a new storm water drainage system, highway guards, loam and seeding, and other necessary incidental work. A detour sign as been directing drivers during construction of this bridge.
Officials said 425 feet of the westerly approach roadway and 300 feet of the easterly approach roadway as well as 225 feet of South Riverview Street were reconstructed.
The $4.3 million federally aided project is being constructed by Ricci Concrete Construction Co. Inc. of Georgetown.
Two other Haverhill bridges recently opened. The new Congressman William H. Bates Bridge opened Sept. 20 to the relief of drivers. The 775-foot span cost $49.7 million to build and replaced the old Bates Bridge, commonly referred to as the Groveland Bridge, which was deteriorating. State transportation officials said the project will continue into next year with additional work, including the removal of the old bridge. The officials said they do not anticipate a major disruption to traffic while the old bridge is being removed.
About two weeks after the Groveland Bridge opened, the state reopened the historic Rocks Village Bridge. The bridge had been closed to traffic since June 18, 2012, to allow work crews to do $14.1 million in renovations. The span was originally expected to reopen in late August, but workers ran into unexpected problems this summer with the mechanism that opens the bridge for boats to pass underneath.