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News Briefs: Division Street bridge to close to vehicular traffic; federal grant for Lee firefighters

Barriers and detour signage will be installed to alert drivers to the closure of the Division Street bridge over the Housatonic River. The bridge will remain open to pedestrian and bike traffic.

Division Street bridge to close to vehicular traffic

Great Barrington — At the recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Division Street bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic as early as Friday, Sept. 6.

The highly traveled Division Street runs east and west, and connects routes 41 and 183. Barriers and detour signage will be installed to alert drivers. The bridge will remain open to pedestrian and bike traffic. Emergency services and local bus companies have been notified of the closure so they can plan for alternate routes of travel.

Great Barrington Department of Public Works Superintendent Sean Van Deusen remarked “The timing of this closure is unfortunate. We’re currently under contract with Tighe & Bond for engineering services to address structural deficiencies through significant repairs or replacement. It was our hope that the bridge was sound enough to remain open to traffic while we explored our options, but the safety of our residents and visitors is our top priority”.

Voters approved a $4 million bond at the 2019 annual town meeting to fund significant repairs or a complete replacement of the aging structure, which was originally constructed in the 1950s.

It is unclear what the cost of repairs or replacement of the bridge will be and what the timeline for closure will look like. Town officials will release more information as soon as it’s available. The bridge will remain closed until further notice.

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Lee firefighters to receive federal grant

Boston — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced $33.6 million in direct assistance grants to 166 fire departments nationwide through the agency’s fiscal year 2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The Lee Fire Department will receive $224,696 through the program, which will be used to purchase 24 breathing apparatuses for Lee’s firefighters as well as 10 automatic cardiac defibrillators.

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Eligible applicants include local fire departments, fire districts, nonaffiliated EMS organizations, tribal fire departments and state fire training academies. The grant applications are submitted from each agency directly to FEMA, and the applications are then reviewed and scored by fire service personnel from throughout the nation.


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