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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Broad Brook Bridge is Two-Way Again

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, August 12, 2005

The Broad Brook bridge on Route 7 in Williamstown was opened to two-way traffic on Aug. 11.
Williamstown – Two-way traffic was restored to the Route 7 Broad Brook bridge on Aug. 11, and at least one business owner whose shop was affected by the temporary alternating one-way, traffic signal controlled bridge renovation said that bridge workers deserve credit for their hard work during often extreme weather conditions.

Delores “Dodi” Dennette operates “TJs” convenience store on Route 7 along with Tom Warren. The store is situated at an intersection significantly affected by the project.

"Sweating Their Behinds Off"

“It’s nice to see it open and I give the guys, including the town guys [Williamstown Department of Public Works employees and town police officers] a lot of credit,” Dennette said. “Everybody involved with the work was out there working hard when it was freezing cold and when it was so hot, they were out there sweating their behinds off.”

The J.H. Maxymillian Construction Co. is the project’s general contractor. The Broad Brook bridge construction began in the spring of 2004.

Speaking during the afternoon on Aug. 12, MassHighway District 1 Director Ross Dindio said that Broad Brook bridge guard rail work, final top paving, and lane markings are set to occur over the next few weeks.

The scene at the bridge during the morning of Aug. 11 showed the bridge opened, two-way traffic moving unhindered over the bridge, and the four traffic signals that had governed traffic flow were covered and inactive.

Ice Created A Slippery Situation

A recent newspaper column took MassHighway and the project work crews to task for a work stoppage earlier this year, but during a March 16 interview, MassHighway Construction Engineer Peter Niles explained the halt.

Niles told iberkshires.com that “[workers] were iced out.”

“The water [from the brook] was moving up and freezing where they were working,” Niles said during the March interview. “The situation was unworkable.”

Dennette said she remembered the ice situation and said that in her opinion, to continue working would have been very dangerous for the work crews.

“It would have been very easy for somebody to get hurt or killed when it was so bad with the ice,” she said.

Dindio said on Friday that a delay in delivery of some materials and a redesign process also interrupted the construction. He agreed with Dennette that the ice posed a hazard to bridge workers.

"She's right," he said. "That wasn't a good situation."

Niles also said during the March interview that the contracted completion date for the bridge was Aug. 12; the bridge opened one day earlier.

Driver Contributions

Dennette said that she understands that the businesses in proximity to the project, including the store, did endure some hardship, and traffic did back up at the red lights. But some of that hardship was created by numerous vehicle drivers who repeatedly ignored signs asking that driveways not be blocked, “ran” red lights and prevented other drivers from traveling during “green light” periods, and also ignored signs that prohibited certain right-hand turns during the construction, she said.

“You can’t blame the project for the conduct of the drivers,” she said. “You should have seen some of them [drivers] out there.”

Dennette said that the project was “something that had to be done.”
“I’m happy to see that people were out there working and making the roads safe,” she said. “We had a good day [at the store] yesterday and today has been good. I’m happy to know that the bridge is safe.”

The Maxymillian construction company was awarded the bridge contract with a bid of $1,115,378.54. During a July 21 interview that announced two-way traffic was being restored to a Cole Avenue bridge, Dindio said that the current Broad Brook costs were at about $1.4 million.

As for the on-going Hemlock Brook project, Dindio said that the bridge was in need of repair, and pointed out that once the work is done, the four heavy-traffic bridges [Cole Avenue, which was a two-bridge project, Broad Brook, and Hemlock Brook] will not likely require significant renovation for years to come.

Dindio said that the Hadley Overpass in North Adams has been deemed "sound" and said that MassHighway is working to upgrade the bridge and its' appearance.

"The bridge is structurally sound," he said."Unfortunately, work there is taking us a little longer than we anticipated. The situation around that bridge is not a simple process. There are many issues that are very, very important."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.

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