EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 16, 2013

'Structural concerns' won't delay bridge opening

State: New Groveland Bridge ready early next year

HAVERHILL — A “structural problem” discovered in the final stages of building the new Groveland Bridge is not expected to significantly delay its opening early next year, a state official said.

Work on the span that will connect Haverhill and Groveland stopped last week. A worker told a neighbor that there are problems with gears that open the movable portion of the bridge to boats.

But Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the “potential structural concerns” are not expected to delay the opening. He added that a definitive opinion on whether that issue could delay the project has not yet been made.

“The contractor is presently implementing additional work to address this issue,” reads an Aug. 8 advisory put out by the transportation agency. “However, a definitive time frame for shifting the traffic (from the old Groveland Bridge to the new span) has not yet been made.”

The advisory said construction is 89 percent done. Last week, state officials said the bridge is expected to be ready for traffic early next year.

The old Groveland Bridge — formally known as the Congressman William H. Bates Bridge — will remain open to carry traffic over the Merrimack River until the new 775-foot-long structure is complete.

After the new bridge opens, the old span will be dismantled and hauled away by the contractor, officials said. The new bridge is about 60 feet down river from the old one.

The $50 million project also includes reconstruction of the approaches leading up to the bridge on both sides, as well as traffic signal and roadway improvements at the intersection of Groveland Street and Lincoln Avenue in Haverhill.

Another nearby span being reconstructed by the state, the historic Rocks Village Bridge, is scheduled to reopen to traffic Sept. 29, officials said recently. That bridge is used by residents of Haverhill, West Newbury, Merrimac and several southern New Hampshire towns.

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