HAVERHILL — The new Groveland Bridge is open, and not a moment too soon for local drivers and merchants.
The bridge linking Haverhill and Groveland opened to traffic this morning. The 775-foot span cost $49.7 million to build and replaces the old Bates Bridge, commonly referred to as the Groveland Bridge, which was deteriorating.
The new bridge is massive and dwarfs the old span. When its single-leaf drawbridge rises up into the sky to allow boats to pass, the sight is impressive, observers said.
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.
Prior to yesterday’s opening celebration of the new bridge, officially named the Congressman William H. Bates Bridge, drivers and workers talked about the project.
Elizabeth Webster of Groveland was stopped for gas at K’s Gulf on the Haverhill side of the bridge.
“I ride a motorcycle and the old bridge is so bumpy that I’ve been scared of falling over,” she said. “I’m excited about the new bridge opening. I can’t wait.”
Paul Kaknes, owner of K’s Gulf, said his customers have repeatedly asked him when the new bridge will open. After yesterday’s announcement by the state that the bridge would be open to traffic this morning, Kaknes began relaying the good news to his customers.
“It will mean more heavy truck traffic,” Kaknes said. Because of the old bridge’s age and deteriorated condition, big trucks were not allowed to cross it.
Kaknes said his gas delivery trucks would leave a depot in Chelsea and travel Interstate 93 to Interstate 495, then drive through Haverhill and onto Water Street to reach his station.