Construction To Start in August on Mitchell River Bridge

chatham bridgeCHATHAM – Construction on a new Mitchell River Bridge in Chatham will soon be underway.

The closure of the bridge is tentatively scheduled for the third week of August.

“That’s subject to approval from the state based on submittals,” Chatham Department of Public Works Director Jeff Colby said. “The definitive date has not been given.”

When the contractor and Mass DOT officials  met with the Chatham Board of Selectmen a couple of weeks ago, Colby said, the interest was in starting the job as soon as possible.

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“The sooner they get done, the more likely it is they could finish a little earlier and not impact a third summer,” Colby said. The project is expected to finish in 2016.

“We know that the summer of 2015 will be impacted but we’re hoping that if all goes well with construction that the summer of 2016 will be open with a new bridge,” he said.

Because the start date is close to Labor Day, project officials are looking into pushing the closure date to after Labor Day so the use of Bridge Street can continue for the entire summer.

Within the last couple of weeks, town officials have met with the contractor, SPS New England Inc. of Salisbury, and officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation which is paying for the project. Submittals are being made to the state on scheduling and other final items before construction.

That work could began as early as the third week in August, although the work could be bumped back until just after Labor Day.

Chatham Department of Public Works Director Jeff Colby says activity could start at the site in a few days.

“We’d expect in the next 10 days or so we might be looking at the mobilization of the contractor to the site and then some pre-construction kind of work, signage, erection and the general preparing the site, erosion control measures,” he said.

The construction will be funded entirely with state and federal money.

The span will be a primarily wood structure in keeping with its predecessor, which is the last remaining wooden drawbridge in the state.

“The bulk of this structure is going to be wood so the public when this bridge is done that are driving over it or walking over it will see a significant wooden structure there,” he said.

The process of replacing the bridge took place over several years and included participation from historic committees and Friends of the Mitchell River Wooden Drawbridge and the state historic preservation officer.

The features that are being preserved in the reconstructed bridge will be a wood deck and wood railing. It has a concrete pier system in the water. There is an attempt to reuse some of the former bridge in the new bridge as well.

The bridge is being paid for with state and federal funds through the accelerated bridge program.

Detours and a definitive construction scheduled will go on the town’s website when those details are available.