Royalston Selectboard awards contract for King Street Bridge assessment

Ellena Engineering has been awarded a contract to conduct a study of the King Street Bridge to see if it’s possible to build a new foot bridge. 

Ellena Engineering has been awarded a contract to conduct a study of the King Street Bridge to see if it’s possible to build a new foot bridge.  FILE PHOTO

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 02-05-2024 5:00 PM

ROYALSTON – The Selectboard has awarded the contract for an engineering study of the King Street Bridge to Ellena Engineering.

Board Vice Chair Rick Martin said he will meet with representatives of Ellena Engineering to finalize a timeline for completion of the work. The company, located in Wisconsin, submitted the lower of two bids at $19,500

The assessment must be completed before any work to transform the span into a footbridge for hikers can begin. A map located at the northern end of the bridge instructs hikers to cross the span over the Millers River—what is known as the Blue & Yellow Trail—which leads to a series of trails into the Bearsden Conservation Area in Athol.

The state, however, closed the bridge to foot traffic in October 2022 due to safety concerns.

“Basically, they’re going to soft design the bridge according to our specifications and give us an estimate—if we send that out to bid—of how much it would cost (to refurbish the bridge),” said Martin. “Once we have that number, we’re off and running, trying to find funds.”

Martin explained that Ellena will “review the bridge, either through inspection data that they’ll get from MassDOT, or they’ll come out and look at the bridge.”

He explained that the company has been asked to assess the cost and feasibility of constructing a foot bridge 10 feet wide and 84 feet long. This bridge must also be capable of accommodating a half-ton pickup.

“What they will do,” Martin continued, “is they will design a new bridge. They’ve been given the option of using some of the (existing) bridge, if it possibly can be used, or to basically take the bridge out and put a new one in. It’s up to them, depending on what they find in reviewing the bridge.”

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Ellena Engineering will then provide the town with an estimate of the cost of pursuing the option that proves most feasible.

Regardless of the option chosen, Martin continued, “We would have to do another bid. Of course, we’d have to find the funds first, however much it cost. Then, once we’ve found the funds, we would go out and re-bid for the construction portion of it.”

Martin said the fact that the sewer line serving the South Village extends over the bridge may prove to be a benefit.

“It is actually a good thing for this project,” he said, “because trying to get money just for a bridge is very hard. I mean, Athol is doing bridges right now and who knows how long it took them to get the money to do it. Having the sewer line on there – if the bridge collapsed, or if something happened and the raw sewage went into the river, that would be an environmental catastrophe that brings this whole project right up to the top of a lot of lists. So, the sewer line is going to help us find the money for this project.”

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