EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 28, 2013

A span for returning vets

Andover memorial bridge would honor service in Iraq, Afghanistan

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — Three of the area’s state legislators are pushing to have an Andover bridge over Interstate 93 renamed in honor of local veterans who have served in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.

Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover) and state Reps. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) and Frank Moran (D-Lawrence) have jointly filed the bill to rename the bridge on High Plain Road over Interstate 93 in both directions the Andover Veterans of the Iraqi and Afghanistan War Memorial Bridge.

The bill is now before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, according to its website.

Finegold said the idea for renaming the bridge came from Andover’s veterans committee. But he said he was happy to oblige in the request and work on the bill.

“People who are coming back from these wars overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan are definitely having some challenges,” Finegold said. “We’re seeing a high unemployment rate for returning veterans, high suicide rates, high homeless rates.”

While a bridge dedication may not solve many of those problems, Finegold said, “I think it would be a nice thing to do, to remember those who are serving right now or have served.”

Lyons agrees, saying he was happy to work Finegold and Moran on the measure,

“If we can honor them in any way, I think it’s critically important to keep them front and center for what they’ve done for us,” Lyons said. “I think it’s extremely important that we never forget the sacrifices our veterans have made for our freedom.”

As written, the bill instructs the state Department of Transportation to “erect and maintain suitable markers on the bridge bearing the designation.”

The cost of such designations would be “minimal, just a sign,” Finegold said.

The state Senate referred the bill to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Oct. 3, an appointment that the House supported yesterday, according to the state website. Josh Katz, a committee staff member, said the appointment to the committee is standard procedure for a bill.

“When a bill is filed, as a general rule, it’s assigned to one of the many committees where it will get a hearing and, eventually, it will be reported out of the committee favorably or unfavorably,” Katz said. “Now the bill is sort of on its way, so to speak.”

Finegold said he hopes to see the act officially approved within the next 90 to 120 days.

“I’m pretty confident,” he said. “I’m definitely hopeful for that.”