Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, municipal leaders, and MassDOT officials today announced the first two awards through the Baker-Polito Administration’s Municipal Small Bridge Program. A ceremony was held in Lenox to award a total of $750,000 to the towns of Washington and Blandford for small bridge replacement and construction projects.
“Our administration is proud to make these local investments in community infrastructure needs,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These first two Municipal Small Bridge Program awards are important steps toward ensuring flexible and reliable travel and encouraging economic opportunity throughout these local communities and neighborhoods.”
“We are committed to working closely with cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth to achieve our shared transportation goals,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “This financial support will allow these two municipalities to proceed with construction of infrastructure which is a necessary part of the fabric of people’s everyday lives, taking community members to homes, jobs, retail areas, schools and other destinations.”
The Municipal Small Bridge Program, signed into law on August 10, 2016, by Governor Baker, is a $50 million program to aid in the replacement and preservation of municipally-owned small bridges with spans of ten to twenty feet. These bridges are not eligible for federal aid under existing bridge replacement or rehabilitation programs and an increasing number of them are at high risk for full or partial closure in the near future due to their present conditions.
Recognizing the difficulty municipalities have in meeting this responsibility, the Baker-Polito Administration established the Municipal Small Bridge Program to provide financial support to cities and towns for small bridge replacement, preservation and rehabilitation projects.
“The Municipal Small Bridge Program is another example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s awareness that a bridge is more than transportation infrastructure, it is something which supports people go about their everyday lives and helps connect the public to opportunities,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack.
“Local officials in small communities, like Blandford and Washington, have to work very hard every year to stretch their limited sources of revenue to meet competing needs,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds. “The Municipal Small Bridge Program is an important tool in Massachusetts to help towns invest in critical local infrastructure. I’m so pleased that the Baker-Polito Administration is here today to infuse these projects with financial support. When complete, the Middlefield Road Bridge project in Washington and the Blandford Road and Gore Road Bridge projects in Blandford will provide residents with direct routes to neighboring communities and faster response times for emergency responders.”
“I am pleased to hear about the awards made to the towns of Washington and Blandford for the replacement of several small bridges through the Municipal Small Bridge Program,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. “These bridges are lifelines for transportation within these two towns. I appreciate the Administration’s continued attention to some of our smallest communities.”
“These awards through the Municipal Small Bridge Program will provide many benefits to people throughout these communities” said Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin. “There are few things as important in many cities and towns in terms of infrastructure than the bridges which connect neighborhoods and save drivers minute or hours in travel time when they have to cross a river or other obstacle.”
The Municipal Small Bridge program is a need and merit based program that seeks to fund those applications that demonstrate a critical need or substantially extend the life of an existing small bridge. Projects are evaluated according to a strict set of eligibility criteria that consider the existing condition, detour length, impact to emergency and essential services, economic importance, and repair status of each bridge project. Applications for this program are accepted three times per year: October 31, February 28, and June 30.
Municipal Small Bridge Program Funding Locations and Descriptions
Washington will receive $250,000 to replace a bridge on Middlefield Road which will service an important connector route between the towns of Washington, Becket, Pittsfield and Middlefield. This roadway is utilized by heating and utility companies, the postal service, emergency vehicles, residents, and commuters. A temporary, weight-limited bridge has been installed at this location as the original bridge was removed due to a beam failure, but the detour for heavier vehicles is 15 miles.
Blandford will receive $500,000 to replace bridges on Blandford Road and Gore Road that have deteriorated and are structurally deficient. These bridges are used extensively by fire, police, and emergency responders as well as school busses, utilities, businesses and members of the community. A detour of approximately 14 miles would be implemented if these two bridges were out of service.
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