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.
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MCLA's Sam Gomez Fund-Raiser Race Returns April 7
NORTH ADAMS, Mass..— The MCLA Student Government Association’s 46th annual Sam Gomez Road Race will be held and around the campus of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Sunday, April 7.
With the help of loyal sponsors and runners, SGA has raised more than $30,000 for Berkshire-based organizations over the past two decades. This year, SGA has chosen Louison House as its 2024 not-for-profit beneficiary.
Runners or walkers can register at www.mcla.edu/samgomez.
Community members, families and friends are encouraged to take part or donate to this worthy cause. The April 7 race kicks off at 11 a.m. Check-in time will be from 9:30 to 10:45 on the first floor of the MCLA Campus Center in the Marketplace.
Runners who wish to complete the 5-kilometer race will be timed by our partner organization, the Berkshire Running Center, and times will be available afterwards. All runners who register will receive a race T-shirt, and medals will be awarded to top finishers and kids under 10.
The Sam Gomez Road Race is one of the oldest races in Berkshire County. Thanks to the generosity of our loyal sponsors and the support of the local running community, the race has been a successful North Adams tradition for more than 40 years.
The total budget is $12,092,886, up $593,820 over this year. Superintendent James Brosnan noted that the net school spending for the communities in the regional district has also increased, putting the total over minimum assessment at 1.9 percent.
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