Willimansett Bridge could reconnect Holyoke, Chicopee this year
The Willimansett Bridge between Chicopee and Holyoke.
Work on the Willimansett Bridge between Chicopee and Holyoke has been stalled for months after the contractor went bankrupt, but it looks like there may be some signs of progress.
The Department of Transportation met with city leaders from Western Massachusetts to update them on the status of projects going on around the state. One of them was the troubled Willimansett Bridge, which has been closed since 2011.
The $20 million project to rebuild the bridge came to a halt in September when Pihl Construction notified the state they were going bankrupt.
The bridge, which was built at the end of the 19th century, was causing problems for some businesses even before construction began.
"They had a weight restriction on the bridge and we've got oil trucks that service the Holyoke area," said Joseph Ludwin, the owner of Ludwin's Oil and Tire in Chicopee. "We had to go around the bridge to take care of our customers."
There were several problems legally and contractually trying to get work started again, but it appears the state is ready to start again, which is welcome news to Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos. They will be speaking with construction companies Friday with hopes to have bids by spring.
Business on both sides of the river say it will take a lot to get back to where they were before the bridge closed.
"The simplest way to put it is, it takes 20 years to bring a business up, and three years to tear it down," said Mark MacDonald, owner of A.B.M. Transmission.
Another sticking point could be money. About half the money - $10 million - is gone and it is unknown how much it will cost to finish the project.
Everyone involved is trying to push this project through quickly. If all goes well, construction could start in a few months and be finished by the end of the year.
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