Gleasondale Bridge info session

*Due to a power outage impacting a majority of Stow, the following is the first part of the presentation, and will be followed up when the full recording of the session is available

By Natasha Don

On Sept. 1, representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) hosted an info session/community forum via Zoom regarding the Gleasondale Bridge Project on route 62 in Stow, that was interrupted for many by a power outage in Stow.

MassDOT representatives Jeff Dietrich and Michael Splaine addressed the Zoom audience, providing an overview of the Gleasondale Bridge project’s history, as well as the building goals. At that point in the meeting many members of the public lost contact with the meeting. MassDOT has confirmed that a recording of the session in its entirety will be made available to Stow TV, but was not yet available.

Following is a summary of the beginning portion of the meeting up until the power outage. At the time of this info session, the final design for the project was completed and approved.

Project History

 Jeff Dietrich of MassDOT explained that the true beginning of the Gleasondale Bridge Project began in 2015 when an inspection of the bridge identified key areas for improvement. Structural issues identified through this, and subsequent, inspections necessitated the project currently underway.

Dietrich identified three core groups that make up the project team: the MassDOT Highway Division, which he characterized as “the bridge’s owner and project proponent;” Kodiak Corporation, which is the project’s general contractor; and Howard Stein Hudson Engineers & Planners Firm which is responsible for public involvement.

Dietrich provided an overview of the project’s timeline. He explained that an inspection in 2015 uncovered some initial concerns, and in 2017, a Design and Outreach effort found that the bridge’s northern abutments were in need of replacement. It was also determined that the bridge’s deck, rails, and beams were beyond repair. In order to mitigate risks created by these issues while waiting for the bridge’s reconstruction, the bridge traffic was reduced to a single lane to limit the weight burdening the bridge.

In 2019, MassDOT held the first public hearing on the project, at which point the new bridge’s design was 25 percent completed. In 2020, the fully completed design was submitted to the state for approval, and now they are ready to begin construction. MassDOT is planning to almost entirely replace the bridge. Dietrich stated that the primary goal for the project is “to meet current safety standards and restore uninterrupted 2-way traffic.”

The Current Plan

Dietrich stated that under the approved design the new bridge will have “two 10-ft travel lanes, two 5-ft bicycle accommodating shoulders, two 6-ft sidewalks, and new crash-tested railings at the back of the sidewalk.” The design also aims to maintain the current footprint and not interfere with surrounding property or homes. Dietrich assured, “We’ve been made aware of all the septic tanks and wells in the area to ensure we’re not impacting those in any way.”

Splaine and Dietrich also explained that MassDOT acknowledges the environmental significance of the Assabet River, over which the bridge is suspended. “MassDOT is committed to stringent contract specifications for silt protection,” stated Dietrich. “We’ll be staging equipment to help make sure no materials are dropped into the river.” They stated all trees that would be moved for the purposes of project utility were within the public right of way and not on private property.

What to Expect During Construction

Dietrich and Splaine reported that Stage 1 of the new bridge construction is slated to occur from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022. This stage will involve the demolishment and replacement of the bridge’s east side, while the lane on the west side remains open to traffic and pedestrians.

Stage 2 will occur from Summer 2022 to Fall 2022, with the demolishment and replacement of the remaining west side. During this stage, traffic and pedestrians will be rerouted to the newly built east side of the bridge.

Dietrich clarified that there will be times when full closures of the bridge will need to occur, and that detours have already been mapped and determined. These full closures are planned to take place during overnight hours. Detour signs and police details will be present during these times to assist drivers and pedestrians. “Delays in emergency response are not anticipated during construction,” said Dietrich.

Regular partial closure construction will take place Monday through Friday from 7am to 3pm. Demolition will only occur during the day, and community members were made aware that during these times hammering and other loud noises should be expected. Dietrich explained that all removed materials will be bagged and lifted from the construction site to avoid being deposited in the river.

He stated that all equipment will be monitored to ensure state noise and emission standards are met. Additionally, during nighttime work, the contractor will reduce the reach of work lights by using shrouded light stands.

When the full recorded meeting is made available, summary of the remaining presentation and open forum will be published.