Methuen company to repair conduit, fasteners

  • Ice flowing under the Exchange Street Bridge in Athol swept away a couple of the hangers toward the town's water treatment plant about a month ago. A contractor has been awarded to MC Industrial Services, a division of Methuen Construction, to make repairs. Athol daily news file photo

  • Athol DPW Superintendent Doug Walsh said Tuesday that pending repairs to the Exchange Street Bridge will not interfere with the April 14 Big Cheese 5K road race. The anticipated hundreds of runners and walkers will be allowed to go over the bridge, which remains closed to vehicular traffic, to get to Athol’s own ‘Heartbreak Hill’ seen here on the other side of the bridge on Exchange Street. Athol Daily News/Deborrah PorteR

Monday, February 19, 2018

ATHOL — A Methuen contractor has been awarded a contract to make repairs to a water main conduit and its fasteners damaged by ice jams in the Millers River nearly a month ago at the Exchange Street Bridge, which has been closed since.

Following emergency procurement protocols, Town Manager Shaun A. Suhoski said Tuesday he awarded the work to MC Industrial Services, a division of Methuen Construction, for $73,728.68, the lowest of three quotes received. The other quotes were from the SPS Corp.($74,850) and Kodiac Corp. ($87,500). Athol Department of Public Works Superintendent Doug Walsh said the town has worked with all three contractors in the past.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 13, a large mass of ice traveled down the Millers River and impacted the Exchange Street Bridge, damaging the steel structures that secure a conduit and 12-inch water main across the river. The hangars, roughly 4 feet long by 3 feet wide in the shape of a “U,” were dislodged from the bridge’s underside and swept downstream by the ice and waterflow. They sank to the river bottom. Walsh said they should not impede the hundreds of canoeists paddling down the river during the April 14 River Rat Race as they pass under.

After the event, Walsh immediately requested assistance from MassDOT and initiated pricing from qualified vendors to replace two metal hangers that were swept away and to secure several of the remaining compromised fixtures.

“With Exchange Street being a primary response route for police, and the water main being a key component of the distribution system and fire flow protection, it is of paramount importance to make the repairs promptly and re-open the roadway,” said Suhoski.

Walsh said that the water main is open enough to prevent freezing, but in the event of a fire, the gates will be opened completely, and monitored, to provide water where it is needed.

Walsh said that the MC Industrial Services company will get equipment out there as soon as they can to take measurements. Work, estimated to take three to four weeks, will begin immediately upon receipt of the required steel components.

Walsh assured that there is no structural damage to the bridge itself.

“It’s just that the vibration from vehicular traffic is making the water main bounce on the remaining brackets,” he said.

Even if the bridge is not repaired in time for the Big Cheese 5K race on River Rat Race weekend April 14, runners and walkers will be allowed to cross the bridge as usual to tackle the Exchange Street hill (Athol’s equivalent to the Boston Marathon’s grueling “Heartbreak Hill”) along the route.

The town manager said that he is working with the town’s insurer to determine the applicability and extent of coverage for the damage.

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