NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Construction on the Ross J. Rajotte Memorial Bridge over the Blackstone River in Rockdale should be done by the end of the year if all goes as planned.
The original completion date for the $4 million bridge reconstruction project was August 2012.
“We are significantly behind schedule there,’’ Mark Hartnett, District 3 construction engineer for the state Department of Transportation, told the Board of Selectmen at a meeting on Monday.
Selectmen, angry and frustrated by construction delays at the bridge and a lack of information over the cause of those delays, scheduled the meeting with DOT workers with the help of state legislators.
In addition to Hartnett, the meeting was attended by DOT construction engineer Mark Johnson, Sen. Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge), Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and Rep. George N. Peterson (R-Grafton).
The bridge is open to one-way traffic. Construction is affecting homes and businesses in the immediate area, particularly Laurieanne’s Restaurant located on the south side of the span and where the bulk of the work over the past year has been taking place.
“The restaurant is pretty close to shutting down,’’ said Selectman Thomas J. Melia. At a meeting two weeks ago, selectmen unanimously agreed to forgive the restaurant’s $1,050 liquor license renewal fee for 2013.
“Why is it like this? Why can’t we get an army down there to get this done?’’ Melia asked.
Hartnett said thicker-than-expected ledge and large stone used as fill years ago on the south side of the bridge abutment after a storm forced a redesign, which caused the delay.
Several test borings were done prior to the start of construction, but not in the area in question, he said.
He said he hopes to recover some of the lost time by having crews working, when weather permits, through the winter months.
Plans now are to have one side of the bridge finished and open to traffic in the spring after which construction will begin on the other side.
Selectmen also asked legislators help Laurieanne’s Restaurant.
“There must be some way we can help that business. They’re losing business and they’ll continue to lose business through no fault of their own,’’ said Selectman James Marzec.
Sen. Richard Moore said helping businesses in this kind of situation is “complex’’ but something the legislative delegation will look into.