Westerly elevation: erosion and collapse of NW wingwall and embankment — upstream side. (Photo courtesy of MassDOT)
Massachusetts transportation officials are moving ahead with a plan to replace a small, obsolete bridge along the Perry Hill Road Extension, which spans over the north branch of the Manhan River in the town of Westhampton.
The single-lane bridge was built 67 years ago and consists of a single span steel beam with a reinforced concrete slab and gravel wearing surface.
"The bridge has been deemed structurally deficient by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and has been prioritized for replacement," Doug Finn, administrative assistant of the town, told the Daily Hampshire Gazette in nearby Northampton. "The project will improve the bridge crossing to make it more stable, resilient to high water, and less impactful to the ecology in the area."
MassDOT hosted a virtual public hearing Jan. 31 to present the design for the proposed bridge replacement. Comments by residents about the project will now be taken into consideration in the determination of the final design, according to a letter from Carrie E. Lavallee, deputy administrator and acting chief engineer of MassDOT.
"We recognize that road and bridge construction can create inconveniences for the public," her letter read. "MassDOT places a great deal of emphasis on minimizing temporary disruptive effects of construction."
The transportation department added the Perry Hill Road Extension bridge is currently in the 25 percent design phase.
MassDOT Proposes Three Building Alternatives
The purpose of the project is to replace the bridge with a new three-sided precast concrete culvert capable of carrying standard highway loadings, according to MassDOT plans. In addition, construction crews will likely expand the roadway width between the curbs from 13 to 15 ft.
Existing abutments also will be demolished in an effort to align the river for optimal flow upstream and downstream of the new bridge, the Daily Hampshire Gazette learned.
MassDOT's plans do not include the creation of a sidewalk across the new bridge or on any approach roadway sections. The road profile will be raised about 6 in. over the structure and will tie into existing grades at the project limits.
Finn added that no permanent easement or takings are anticipated to replace the bridge structure.
During the virtual public hearing about replacing the bridge, MassDOT presented three alternatives to construct it, with the caveat that doing nothing to fix the structure "will further compromise the structural integrity of the bridge."
They included using:
- Adjacent precast prestressed concrete deck beams or precast prestressed NEXT D beams.
- Steel rolled stringers.
- A three-sided precast concrete culvert on cast-in-place concrete footing.
MassDOT engineers and officials noted that they prefer the third choice in rebuilding the bridge. To do so, they estimate an eight-month construction period that will include the demolition of the old structure.
The state agency proposes the bridge be constructed in one stage, beginning in the spring of 2025, with a complete closure of the crossing. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic will be detoured during that time.
The Perry Hill Road Extension bridge work is slated to be funded through the 2025 Transportation Improvement Program for the Pioneer Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, according to MassDOT.
Currently, the estimated preliminary construction price tag of the replacement project is $750,000, exclusive of the right-of-way costs.
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