For the past several years, Mattapoisett’s roadways have been going through facelifts and, in some cases, complete reconstructions. Those infrastructure improvements are all in a day’s work for Mattapoisett’s Highway Department, but it isn’t easy. Just ask Highway Superintendent Barry Denham.
A couple of years ago, Mattapoisett faced a significant bridge failure on Acushnet Road at Tinkham Pond. That repair took the Highway Department and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation about a year to fix. First came the closure of a section of the road serviced by the bridge, then months of engineering meetings and planning, with both local consultants and the state’s representatives. A year later, that bridge was completed, and life for residents that use that stretch of road went back to normal.
During the August 22 meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, Denham said he is trying to avoid having that happen again. Flanked by Bob Field of Field Engineering, Inc. and Kim Armstrong of GPI Engineering, Denham rolled out plans for another Acushnet Road bridge and culvert repair located near Hereford Road.
Denham said that construction on the bridge will begin in 2019 after school closes for the summer and planned for completion before school resumes late August, which should minimize the necessary detours that will impact about 100 households.
Denham and Town Administrator Michael Gagne said they have been working with the police and fire departments to pre-plan first responder routes.
Armstrong said the bridge span is constructed of old railroad ties and posts that are rotting away. She also said a culvert will also be replaced. The mood was lightened on this serious matter when Denham produced a town report from 1933 showing the bridge had been constructed for $250 using recycled railroad ties.
Denham said the new bridge design would replace 9-foot wide travel lanes with 12-foot ones. It will also allow for sidewalks at a future date.
In the meantime, as the engineers prepare all the necessary documents for Mass DOT, Denham said he will work with the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and tree warden to secure permitting and for tree removal.
With the first hurtle completed, the 25 percent engineered drawings required for Mass DOT’s review, Denham said he hoped to have construction documents ready for a December bid date.
The bridge repair will be funded by a $500,000 grant secured by the Town in April 2017 from the Baker-Polito Administration’s Municipal Small Bridge Program grant.
As for other roadway issues, Gagne gave an update on village street repairs that have taken place this summer. He said new sidewalks on North Street from Route 6 to Water Street are complete, and that he was pleased with the progress on lower Pearl Street.
Gagne also reported that the Fire Department Study Committee has had four very productive meetings. The committee is comprised of Fire Chief Andrew Murray, Gagne, Selectman Jordan Collyer, William Cantor, and Michael Hickey. Gagne said Hickey’s depth of construction and architectural expertise will be critical to the project.
Gagne said the state requires any municipal project over $300,000 to be managed by an “Owner Project Manager” to assist towns in navigating the regulations imposed on such construction. An OPM must hold state certifications. A search to hire an OPM has begun, Gagne said.
Also coming before the selectmen was Police Chief Mary Lyons to appoint Joshua Denham and Daniel Blizzard as reserve police officers, and Charles Tranfaglia, a current reserve officer, to full-time student officer. Lyons said that Denham also holds experience as a fire suppression professional, and that Blizzard is a former dispatcher in Rochester and EMT in Marion.
Before closing the public meeting, Selectman Tyler MacAllister asked the public to be aware of cyclists along Mattapoisett Neck Road when approaching the bike path crossing. He said that cars parked on the west side of the roadway make it difficult for motorists to see the bike path crossing, and that parking is not allowed along the roadway in that area. He also asked pedestrians and cyclists to wear brightly colored reflective clothing or flashing lights on bicycles to make themselves more visible to motorists.
This prompted Selectman Paul Silva to ask Gagne about the status of new crossing lights at the intersections of Brandt Island Road and Mattapoisett Neck Road where the bike path crosses the roadways. Gagne said initial cost estimates were too low for new lighting equipment and that supplemental funding will be needed. Gagne also said that Phase 1B of the bike path will go out to bid for construction in September.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is tentatively scheduled for September 11 at 6:30 pm, depending on a quorum. Visit www.mattapoisett.netor call 508-758-4100 extension 4 for scheduling update.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell