The bridge was built in 1891 by Richard F. Hawkins Ironworks(superstructure) and Wright Lyons and Company (substructure) with Edward S. Shaw as engineer at an original cost of $178,326.69.
Willimansett Bridge closing for repairs could cost jobs, business owner says
Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 9:22 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 9:30 PMMike Plaisance, The Republican
HOLYOKE - Deterioration of the steel requires that the Willimansett Bridge be repaired, but it's deterioration of another kind that worries Lonnie Tebaldi.
Tebaldi owns Napa Auto Parts at Cabot and Canal streets, a block away from the bridge that delivers a flow of customers.
A flow that might stop in the spring when the bridge closes for repairs that could last up to three years.
“It’s probably going to be pretty bad,” Tebaldi said.
He has nine employees, he said on Monday, and he fears having to make layoffs if business suffers.
“It probably is going to cut back on the amount of traffic that comes to us. The detour that they’re planning is so far out of the way that it will probably cut down on the business we get,” Tebaldo said after a hearing about the bridge repair at City Hall.
“It’s going to hurt, no doubt about it,” he said.
Business owners that rely on traffic from the Willimansett Bridge were among those unhappy to learn that the repair will require the bridge be closed for up to three years.
About 25 merchants, residents and city officials attended a public hearing at City Hall about the $30 million repair of the 119-year-old steel bridge, parts of which officials said have deteriorated.
The state is paying for the project.
Albert R. Stegemann of the state Department of Transportation said officials will try to reduce the amount of time the bridge is closed by requiring the contractor work double shifts.
The job will begin after April 1, he said, with bids from contractors to be solicited in the fall.
The way the 800-foot-long bridge is built prohibits keeping even part of it open to traffic. That’s because the work will be done in sections and weakening one section, as it is being repaired, eliminates the entire span’s ability to sustain traffic, officials said.
“It’s not an easy bridge to rehab or repair,” said Matt A. Card, of Boston consulting engineers Purcell Associates.
The bridge connects Holyoke and Chicopee over the Connecticut River. Deterioration of the plates and other pieces means the bridge must be repaired, Stegemann said.
“It’s going to be difficult,” he said.
Temporary pedestrian walkways will be installed to allow for walking traffic to continue. The bridge gets 300 people walking across it per day, officials said.
The span is one of the state’s first steel bridges. It was built in 1891 and has undergone repairs every 20 to 30 years, Card said.
Posted signs limit the weight of vehicles crossing the bridge to seven tons. The longer the bridge goes without being strengthened, the more the deterioration and the less weight that will be allowed, officials said.
Councilor at Large Aaron M. Vega asked that the state update the city as repairs proceed and Stegemann said that will be done.
Ward 2 Councilor Donald R. Welch asked that the state on future projects do a better job than it did in this case of notifying the public and businesses about such hearings.