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North Adams Closes Bridge to Sons of Italy Property
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
11:58AM / Saturday, June 29, 2024
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The bridge on Christopher Columbus Drive is closed to traffic over concerns about its safety.

The substructure of bridge is rusting out.

The 1987 bridge from Heritage Park is also in need of repairs but safe enough to use.

The mayor says significant potholes on the bridge had the city looking at the structure more closely.

The Christopher Columbus bridge has been patched with metal plates over the years. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The bridge on Christopher Columbus Drive has been closed to traffic and the one-way bridge from Western Gateway Heritage State Park will become one lane. 
Mayor Jennifer Macksey told the City Council on Tuesday that the bridge to the old Sons of Italy has been closed because it is in "dire repair."
The metal and lumber span over the Hoosic River to State Street has been in rough shape for decades. Former Mayor John Barrett III described it as "deplorable" back in 2003 when the plans were being made for the reconstruction of the Hadley Overpass. 
The heavy lumber decking on the bridge has been failing and has been covered with a hodgepodge of metal plates over the years. In March, the mayor reported that the bridge and the vacant Sons of Italy were being evaluated. 
It appears on the mayor's draft capital repair list with a price tag of $2.5 million but she said Tuesday that the bridge is privately owned. The structure is apparently owned by the railroad but has operated as an access to Pan Am Railways' buildings; the Sons property, which the Redevelopment Authority purchased in 2011, and Apkin & Sons scrapyard until it closed two years ago. 
"The Sons of Italy bridge, that may need to be closed permanently but we haven't been able to get someone out to evaluate it," Macksey said in answer to questions. 
The state Department of Transportation recently evaluated the Heritage Park bridge, which allows overflow parking onto the Sons property. It's rated as a 6, or fair, for decking, substructure and superstructure. 
The mayor said MassDOT engineers were with Commissioner of Public Services Timothy Lescarbeau on Monday or Tuesday looking the bridge over. 
"There's some structural issues there so that is yet to be determined," she said. "Right now we're focused on getting Heritage Bridge patched ... it is safe, it is passable but there are some really big potholes which caused us to really look at the structure of it."
She told the council she would know more when Lescarbeau submits his report. 
The 26-foot-long prestressed concrete bridge was built in 1987 and is listed as owned by the state. It is currently one-way from the park to the Sons to allow for overflow parking; motorists would depart over Christopher Columbus Drive, which is no longer possible.
The mayor said the signage would likely be changed to one lane, with drivers being able to go both ways in turn, and another option is to encourage people to use the lot on the other side of the park. 
This is justed the latest in bridge woes for the city. The 1952 Brown Street bridge was closed last year and has been in the design phase since 2021. The city is working with state and federal officials on a fix for the Brown Street bridge and the failing Veterans Memorial Bridge is the subject of a planning study using a $750,000 federal grant.
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