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