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Division Street Bridge project to be finished by Thanksgiving

Department of Public Works Director Joseph Aberdale said at the October 24 Select Board meeting that the temporary prefabricated replacement bridge on Division Street should be ready by Thanksgiving.

Great Barrington — At the Select Board’s meeting on Monday, October 24, Department of Public Works Director Joseph Aberdale announced that the bridge on Division Street should be open by Thanksgiving.

The bridge was closed to traffic for two years when the state’s Department of Transportation deemed it “structurally deficient” during a 2018 inspection. In early August, a prefabricated bridge was installed as a temporary replacement.

In a previous interview, Town Manager Mark Pruhenski said that the lifespan of the prefabricated bridge is about 20 years, and the town can use it while it waits for federal or state funding for a permanent replacement.

A view of the almost completed Division State bridge. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

In January, former Department of Public Works Chairman Sean VanDeusen said that MassDOT would design a permanent replacement bridge. VanDeusen said that the permanent bridge would be built within eight to 10 years and would cost around $15 to $20 million, which would be paid for by the state.

While the bridge was originally scheduled to open in September, at the October 24 meeting Aberdale said that it is “pretty much guaranteed” to open by Thanksgiving, but he did not say why the opening was delayed by two months.

Resident Michelle Loubert, who lives on Division Street, said she had several concerns with the reopening of the bridge. “I and my husband went down to the bridge yesterday, and we were surprised to see the gates [in front of the construction project] wide open,” Loubert said. “Anybody could have walked in there, even a small car. What is scary is what if kids had gone in there? There are gaps where somebody could have fallen through.”

Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

When The Berkshire Edge visited the construction site on Saturday, October 22, the gates for the construction site from one side were wide open. Several people, including a bicyclist, were seen on the construction site on that date.

Loubert said that she had other safety concerns with the bridge. “Trucks are racing up and down from the construction site, backing up without flaggers in a heavily populated residential neighborhood,” Loubert said. “I have some neighbors who are concerned that Division Street will become a truck bypass. “While I’m kind of upset, the bridge has to be opened, without a doubt.”

Aberdale added that, once it opens, the bridge will allow for only a one-way flow of traffic at a time via the traffic lights installed at both ends of the bridge. He said that traffic flow will remain that way until the permanent bridge is installed.

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