Friday, April 3, 2015

A Bridge Request Too Far

 Mill Street Bridge connects State Street and Summer Street

Last night the Public Works Committee voted unanimously to oppose the citizens petition article brought to upcoming Town Meeting by North Amherst resident Vince O'Connor to partially reopen the Mill Street bridge and allow two-way vehicular traffic via one lane using the center area of the closed bridge.

State inspectors deemed the bridge "dangerous"

In March of 2014 the Public Works Committee had also voted unanimously to support the same option eventually approved by the Amherst Select Board: to renovate the bridge for one lane vehicular traffic (yet to be decided which way) with a side order of bike/pedestrian path.

 Mill Street Bridge has been closed since summer of 2012, but still open to pedestrians and cyclists

That reconstruction project is scheduled to start in the 2017 construction season and will be paid for with state money.

Outer beams rusted and concrete foundation is washing away

Mr. O'Connor admitted the bridge is currently unsafe for two-way traffic and cannot support the weight of Amherst Fire Department emergency vehicle, but he pointed out it's the outermost steel beams on each side that are the problem, so the middle part of the bridge could support one car via one-way traffic.

 Vince O'Connor was unsuccessful with his pitch to the Public Works Committee last night

DPW Chief Guilford Mooring pointed out that you would need to place jersey barriers to keep cars from traveling on the unsafe areas thus taking up even more space making it tight for AFD vehicles or pedestrians and cyclists crossing at the same time with vehicles.

During the meeting Mooring texted Fire Chief Tim Nelson about the bridge who instantly responded, "I wouldn't even think about using it"

Long time Town Meeting member and North Amherst resident Hilda Greenbaum also complained to the Public Works Committee that more traffic is now funnelled through the main North Amherst village center intersection, which is a tad quirky.

Greenbaum threatened PWC Chair Christine Gray-Mullen  with  a lawsuit if she were injured or killed in a car accident in North Amherst center.

 N. Amherst intersection upper center: Montague & Sunderland Road split off

Committee members repeatedly suggested there was "nothing new" in the presentations coming before them now, considering the extensive public hearings they held over one year ago.  When they cut off discussion because of that, O'Connor stormed out of the meeting.

The Public Works Committee then voted unanimously (3-0 with 2 absent*) to strongly oppose the Town Meeting warrant article to reopen the bridge because it was "unsafe, costly to implement and still would not support the weight of an AFD emergency vehicle."

 * The PWC is currently looking for a new member.  With meetings like this, how can you go wrong?

 Bridge provides perfect perch to view Puffer's Pond waterfall


Anonymous said...

Didn't know Abe Lincoln was a civil engineer, now. Huh.

So what was VO's reason behind it? In other words, how was it inconveniencing him, personally?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think its bizarre that Vince wears ARPS visitors passes outside of the school buildings? (the green patches on his vest--see photo)

I thought those passes had returned, once the visitor leaves school.

They basically give him free access into and out of schools (say, to pick up a forgotten umbrella)

Larry Kelley said...

Yes he did admit it pretty much amounts to the inconvenience of going around the detour routes that stimulated his request.

He also talked at length about the "million dollar house" just over the bridge that did all that major construction last year and drove the neighbors crazy.

He seemed to suggest that reopening the bridge would be a kind of positive payback for the neighbors inconvenienced by that project.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a big deal in need of countless public meetings and involvement, wait..

I thought this is more of a process thing than a public comment thing. The town should consider hiring some folks to focus on just fixing the roads and coordinating it before it becomes a public debate. You can call it the DPW or something like that.

Bridge is broken, it is part of the road system, fix it and skimp on some banners in town for a while. Or if it is not needed, take it down before it falls down.

You see, the last step in being educated is being able to take decisive action. Let's hire some (well) educated people to run the town. It will save millions.

Dr. Ed said...

Lose the supports for that sewer line and you will have some problems -- anywhere, and even more in Amherst.

Oh, all the little fishes, Oh, my!

And as to the North Amherst Intersection -- it's still laid out as a turnaround and switch for the street railway that went bankrupt during the first Great Depression some 80 years ago now. (Remember that railroad track can't make a 90 degree turn.)

Perhaps, umm, maybe, it's time to, umm.....

DaveMB said...

The North Amherst intersection would be greatly improved from my perspective if it once again had a pedestrian light. Does anyone know whether there are plans for that? The old system has been down for about a year.

From a selfish perspective, my dogs and I appreciate the complete lack of vehicle traffic over that bridge under the current situation. But (perhaps unlike VO) I'm not prepared to argue my personal convenience as a basis for town policy.

Anonymous said...

You know if Vince actually acted as if he could learn something from someone else, he might be endearingly civic-minded.

Instead, he simply moves from board to board, day after day, lecturing them about what they should do.

And, you'll note that just about every chairperson in town is deferential to him.

So how many articles does he have on the Town Meeting warrant this year?

Anonymous said...

It's not just personal inconvenience: there are hundreds of folks living at Mill Hollow - and a major PVTA bus route - that are forced to make a multi-mile detour several times a day, every day. The delay in repairing or replacing this bridge is a scandal. As likable as Guilford may be, he's not as effective as his predecessor, Noel Ryan. And whether or not you like Vince's personal style, he's knowledgable on such matters - didn't he used to chair the PWC? - so it would be fitting to re-appoint him to that committee.

Larry Kelley said...

That certainly would spice up their meetings.

Dr. Ed said...

Speaking of bridges, exactly why is that one over the rail-trail still not reopened?

Why the hell was all that money spent on a bridge that was essentially built from scratch if it isn't going to be used?

Anonymous said...

If the Greenbaum's think it is so important than why don't they take some of profits from renting to students and help pay for that bridge. This couple fights all changes in North Amherst especially the ones that could hurt their low vacancy rate. Tired of hearing their complaints.