Holtshire Road bridge construction in Orange expected to be done by fall

  • Work is in progress on the bridge carrying Holtshire Road over the Millers River in Orange. A temporary platform provides a crane access to the three-span bridge. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Work in progress on the bridge carrying Holtshire Road over the Millers River in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/29/2020 9:18:45 AM
Modified: 1/29/2020 9:18:41 AM

ORANGE — After 83 years, the Holtshire Road bridge will finally be replaced.

The $5 million construction project to replace the bridge is in progress, and a temporary platform has been built to provide crane access to the three-span bridge. According to the state Department of Transportation, the project is set to be completed Nov. 1.

The existing bridge, built in 1937, carries Holtshire Road over the Millers River, providing a route from Route 2A toward Lake Mattawa, or to nearby Wendell via West Orange Road.

However, it’s been closed for several years, having been due for replacement since at least 2017, according to Joshua Knechtel, the interim public works superintendent in Orange at that time.

At a 2016 Special Town Meeting, residents approved easements that allowed the $5,149,871 project to replace the bridge to go ahead. Five temporary and five permanent easements were approved, with the landowners agreeable to the project. The bridge has been closed to traffic since, with a detour in place.

The project is funded by the Franklin Transportation Improvement Program, a combination of state and federal funds that come to the region annually through MassDOT.

Initial construction to replace the bridge began two years ago, according to MassDOT documents, and the project is on its final leg.

The bridge will have new steel beams supporting a concrete deck with asphalt pavement, with a 10-foot lane and a 2-foot shoulder in each direction, as well as a single 5-foot-6-inch sidewalk on the west side.

In addition, the road leading up to the bridge will be improved, and should be smoother and safer, with a permanent sidewalk installed, MassDOT documents indicate.

The Holtshire Road bridge is one of more than 20 state-funded projects across Franklin County set to start or finish in the next few years, with more than $80 million in funding.

According to U.S. News and World Report magazine last year, Massachusetts, while ranked highly in areas including education, is 44th out of 50 states when it comes to infrastructure.

Other Franklin County bridge projects include the General Pierce Bridge connecting Montague and Greenfield, with construction expected to start this summer; McClelland Farm Road bridge in Deerfield, expected to be opened this year; rehabilitation of the bridge across the Deerfield River in Buckland and Charlemont, expected to begin this fall; replacement of the temporary bridge on West Oxbow Road over Wilder Brook in Charlemont, expected to finish this year; and the bridge over Poland Brook in Conway, expected to be replaced in 2023 or 2024.

Also in Orange, the bridge over the Tully River on Logan Road between Athol and Orange is currently in the design phase, as well as the Brookside Road bridge over the railroad tracks.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.


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