Northbridge Bridge Completion Now A Year Away

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From left, Sen. Michael Moore, Rep. George Peterson, DOT workers Mark Johnson and Mark Hartnett, and Sen. Richard Moore at a meeting of Northbridge selectmen on Monday. Photo Credit: Deborah Gauthier
Progress was evident on the Ross J. Rajotte Memorial Bridge in Rockddale on Monday. Photo Credit: Deborah Gauthier

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.

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Comments (7)

JuanRichardson:

I haven't been to Rockdale this past few months and I have no more updates of the bridge. Is the construction already done? Who is the bridge builder by the way?

Jethro:

Did you even read the article? The whole thing is an "update"!!!

stillaranch:

Well said, Jethro.

Jethro:

I'm willing to cut some slack, as there were snags after work began. However, with modern equipment and technology, I'd have expected it to be resolved a lot quicker. Last winter was very mild, and many weeks of work could have been done. I bet it didn't take this long to build the old bridge in 1925.

SonnyinOZ:

Some State's and Municipalities put what is suggestively called an 'Incentive Clause', if the public project is finished ahead of schedule, and a potential 'Disincentive Clause' if the public project is delayed or not finished on its original Schedule. Suggestively when State and Municipal public projects are put out to bid or in their original formatted RFP's. Plus to include a possible Arbitration clause if local business may be significantly monetarily impacted by possible arbitrary delays in the potential project.

Goodreader:

Work for the state on a bridge or road crew, have a job for life!

union man:

So the state can't build a bridge well I guess they are even the town can't build a DPW garage.

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