EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 4, 2013

Bridge construction to start next year

(Continued)

Mass. DOT Project Manager Matt Hopkinson said there will be no issues getting police, fire and rescue crews over the bridge in the event of an emergency in northern Andover.

“You’re putting a fire truck on a 10 foot lane. They may have to stop traffic or slow traffic down in order to safely travel through there,” Hopkinson said. “We looked at that and the folks at the safety complex seem to think they can work with that. We’ve addressed the safety issue. There should be none.”

“Opticom” traffic control technology used in public safety vehicles will also control traffic signals and cut off traffic flow to the bridge in times of emergency, according to Public Safety Officer Chuck Edgerly.

Sweeney Court residents, who access their homes through a driveway that essentially feeds right onto the south side of the bridge, will have a temporary entrance built for them while work on the northbound side blocks their normal entrance, according to Watters.

While the plans show years of forethought, there is still some need for more work, according to Selectmen Alex Vispoli. Central to his concerns is where the bridge merges two lanes of southbound traffic, heading towards downtown Andover, into one.

“When you’re coming up, it’s a little bit of chicken, of ‘Who’s going to get the right of way there?’ because it’s not really an ideal situation,” he said.

Addressing the concern, Watters said the bridge itself doesn’t get narrow on the southern end, but that the roadway is painted to merge the two lanes into one and turn a single northbound lane into two heading the other way. The

Construction is slated to begin sometime in 2014 after it goes out to bid later this year, Watters said. In a best case scenario, it could start next March and be done by the end of the calendar year, though inclement weather and delays could easily push the work into 2015.

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