State assumes responsibility for Fryeville Bridge in Athol

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 02-26-2023 8:09 PM

ATHOL – Town Manager Shaun Suhoski had some good news for Athol’s Selectboard.

Suhoski presented the board with a letter from state’s Department of Transportation “that confirms that the commonwealth, MassDOT, is going to assume the design, engineering, and construction of the Logan Road Bridge – what we call Fryeville Bridge. That’s the sister companion to Pinedale Avenue Bridge.”

The Pinedale Avenue Bridge is slated for reconstruction this year, with the cost being split between the towns of Athol and Orange. The bridge spans the Tully River, which marks the lines between the two North Quabbin Communities.

“I think it shows the active involvement of our DPW management and the townsfolk themselves,” said Suhoski at the board’s Feb. 21 meeting. “When you partner up and fund your obligations, you’re earning partnership and good will at the state level. So, that’s great news. That’s something that we will not need to use that debt exclusion authorization for (Fryeville) Bridge.”

At the last June’s Town Meeting, Athol voters unanimously endorsed a $2.5 million Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion to cover the cost of reconstructing both the Pinedale and Fryeville bridges. Voters had previously approved a question that had been included on the April 2022 annual Town Election ballot. The question passed by a margin of 188-46.

“In addition, MassDOT is also engineering that secondary sluiceway, if that’s the right word, on Crescent Street,” Suhoski told the board. “They’ve also taken that on.”

The cost for repairs to the sluiceway was also included in the debt exclusion. Suhoski went on to highlight for the board the number of spans in Athol that have been reconstructed or repaired by either the town or the state in recent years.

The list he provided, “Illustrates that the state of late has really stepped up to support our infrastructure here in Athol. You’ll see that…four are complete and one is funded and a construction contract has been awarded for Pinedale Avenue – and that’s just in the last four or five years.

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“So a lot of progress has been made on deferred maintenance of our very important infrastructure, in terms of the bridges, and that will continue.”

The bridges included on Suhoski’s list include Pinedale Avenue over the Tully River, Crescent Street and Exchange Street, both over the Millers River, Morgan Avenue over a pond outlet, Washington Avenue over a pond outlet, Fryeville Avenue over the East Branch of the Tully River and Main Street over PanAm Railroad tracks.

In December, the Selectboard awarded a $1.7 million contract to Construction Dynamics of Athol to undertake the reconstruction of the Pinedale Avenue span. While the cost will be split between Athol and Orange, Athol’s Department of Public Works will administer the project. The contract called for the bridge to be closed to traffic as of Feb. 1 but, according to Suhoski, the closure came sooner than first anticipated following an inspection by the state.

The Pinedale and Fryeville bridges are regularly used by motorists traveling between Athol and Orange. Fryeville will not be closed until Pinedale has been re-opened. It’s estimated the work will take anywhere from eight to 12 months to complete.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.

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