Housatonic — To the relief of residents and businesses in the village of Housatonic, the Park Street (Route 183) bridge will reopen this evening (April 7) to one-lane of traffic.
In a news release late this afternoon, state Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Marvin added that, “the bridge will have a 12-ton weight restriction.”
A portion of the Route 183 bridge in Housatonic had collapsed Tuesday morning (April 4), causing its complete closure until late today. A concrete beam, apparently while being prepared for removal, fell into the Housatonic River, leaving a chasm of three feet or more running the length of the southern lane of the bridge, which had already been closed to traffic for construction.
Bettina Montano, founder and artistic director of the dance school Berkshire Pulse, told The Edge her customers were confused as to whether her studio would be accessible during the closure. The bridge had remained open for foot traffic during the closure, but Montano said officials were slow to relay that message to her.
“The communication around it is frustrating,” Montano said Friday afternoon before the reopening announcement. “The whole town isn’t shut down.”
Not only her dance clients but her teachers were also confused about whether they could make it into the studio for lessons, Montano said. Pulse’s studios are at the historic mill at 420 Park Street, abutting the bridge and across the river from the Brick House Pub.
On Wednesday, the day after the bridge closure, Pulse’s business was down by 75 percent or more, Montano explained.
“Now that word is out, things have improved,” she added. “By Monday, we should be back to normal.”
Across the river and on the other side of the railroad overpass, Housie Market worker Robbie Parsons reported that business had held steady during the closure. At the Brick House Pub, bartender Aryca Rieser told The Edge business was up slightly, perhaps because 20 Railroad Public House in downtown Great Barrington is closed for kitchen renovations.
“It hasn’t hindered people from coming to the pub,” Rieser said. “It’s just disorienting more than anything else.”
Both Montano and Rieser had high praise for the workers of the contractor, J.H. Maxymillian, who were very cooperative and great about informing neighbors about the construction. Rieser added that the novelty held the attention of her diners.
“It’s like a spectacle. Everyone wants to see the bridge,” Rieser said. “People want to sit near the windows to see them work on the bridge.”
MassDOT officials did not respond to a message asking for a construction timetable. Work on the $3.4 million project began in February but was originally scheduled to start in the spring of 2016 and last through the fall of 2017.
The 104-foot-long bridge, which was built in 1969, was deemed by MassDOT in a recent report to be “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.” Among its deficiencies, MassDOT found, is beam deterioration, poor load posting, a tight horizontal curve on the eastern approach and no sidewalk on the northeast approach.