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A recent state inspection gave the superstructure of the massive overpass a rating of 3, or 'structurally deficient.'
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Two pillar supports midway of the bridge show the greatest amount of spalling and deterioration.

North Adams Veterans Memorial Bridge Deemed 'Structurally Deficient'

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Jersey barriers and barrels were put up this week to limit a section of the roadway to two lanes. Plans are to soon prohibit large trucks from the bridge.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The 61-year-old Veterans Memorial Bridge has been declared "structurally deficient" after the most recent inspection by the state Department of Transportation. 
 
The city's Department of Public Services in a Facebook post on Thursday said the state has issued weight limit restrictions and lane closures. 
 
"These restrictions are due to structural deficiencies found during a recent inspection and are necessary to keep the bridge open until a repair plan can be implemented," stated the post. "Alternate truck routes [sic] detour signage will be posted over the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience."
 
The span is briefly narrowed to two lanes about halfway through its 171-foot span with barrels and jersey barriers. 
 
"This is a precautionary measure, because there is some critical deterioration," said Mayor Jennifer Macksey on Friday. "So these actions are being taken to really make sure that the rest of the integrity is safe and that big heavy vehicles avoid the area when we get to that point."
 
The ratings posted by MassDOT's Highway Division on Friday list a deck condition of 7, which is considered "good." But the superstructure rated a 3 and the substructure a 5. 
 
According to the Federal Highway Administration, ratings of 4 or less are classified as poor and 5 or 6 as good. The superstructure's rating of 3 lead to its designation as "structurally deficient." 
 
The bridge was inspected on Sept. 25; prior to that, an inspection on December 2022 rated the superstructure as a 5. Macksey said the city was notified right before Thanksgiving that there was an issue and that Commissioner of Public Services Timothy Lescarbeau has been speaking with MassDOT this week.
 
Officials have been concerned about the bridge for sometime. There is significant spalling of the concrete pillars and rust on the steel trusses lifting the deck above the Hoosic River. 
 
The bridge was part of the Central Artery project that saw much of the city's center demolished to straighten out Route 2. Not long after, the state (then in a budget crunch) handed the bridge over the to city. The last time it was overhauled was in 1992 with the federal government and state picking up the $2.1 million tab.
 
Macksey said the city has been told the bridge is safe for now but access by heavy vehicles will be prohibited to prevent further deterioration until a solution can be found. Big trucks and semis that are eastbound will be detoured down West Main Street to and westbound trucks over River Street to Massachusetts Avenue. 
 
The limitations of the bridge will add to the frustrations this year of trying to get from one side of the city to the other. First Ashton Avenue and now a section of Massachusetts Avenue have been closed off for months as part of a massive overhaul of the stormwater system there; plus the Billy Evans Bridge by West Liquors is slated for reconstruction to start before the end of the year. 
 
North Adams already has one bridge out of service: Brown Street. The connector over the West Branch of the Hoosic was closed "indefinitely" in March because of its poor structural condition. The $5.7 million reconstruction of the bridge is in design but the city is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a temporary solution. 
 
"Not many municipalities own bridges and here we are in the city of North Adams, we own the Veterans bridge and the Brown Street bridge," said the mayor. "And they're both failing."
 
North Adams is getting $750,000 in federal funding to rethink the Central Artery and consider ways to better connect the downtown to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which could include removing the bridge. 
 
Macksey said the bridge and traffic patterns are already being evaluated ahead of that feasibility study but the solution won't be ready in 30 days. 
 
"With all the water we got this summer, everything that was just a little bit deteriorated is now critically deteriorated," she said. 
 

Tags: bridge,   bridge work,   

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How can women bridge the retirement gap?

Submitted by Edward Jones

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.

Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:

  • Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
  • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
  • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:

  • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
  • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.

It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.

 

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