GLOCESTER — Already two weeks behind schedule, the $1.2 million Chestnut Hill Road Bridge rehabilitation project is now slated to be completed by the middle of the month.
That's the latest estimation by the state Department of Transportation, which says the bridge should reopen to traffic within two weeks if the weather cooperates. The bulk of the work that remains includes paving the deck of the bridge, among other tasks.
The project was supposed to have reopened last Friday, but that deadline was not met.
The bridge was officially closed on Sept. 13, 2010, to prepare for the $1.2 million rehabilitation project, which includes complete replacement of the bridge, construction of a replacement spillway structure and wetlands restoration.
Shire Corp., the original contractor, tore down the old bridge before last fall, but then stopped work during the winter months. Work resumed in the spring, but in July of this year, work stopped again as a result of a dispute between Shire and the DOT. Since then, the bonding company for Shire has hired Cardi Corp. to complete the work. Cardi began working on the bridge in mid-August.
Originally built in 1908, the bridge carries Chestnut Hill Road over the Chepachet River.
The 102-year-old span is structurally deficient because of deteriorated steel girders. The current bridge has a weight limit of six tons, which prohibits trucks, emergency response vehicles and school buses.
Federal stimulus money is paying for the work to the bridge, which was last rehabilitated in 1954.
Early last week, Sen. Paul W. Fogarty proposed that any penalties that might be assessed against the contractor for not meeting the Sept. 30 completion deadline for the beleaguered $1.2 million Chestnut Hill Road Bridge rehabilitation project should be used instead to pay overtime for crews to finish the project sooner.
Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield) made that suggestion in a letter sent to the state Department of Transportation last week, saying the department must "utilize whatever means necessary" to ensure the timely completion of work to replace the bridge.
Fogarty said he wrote the letter to DOT Director Michael P. Lewis because it was apparent the planned Sept. 30 completion date would come and go without the work being finished.
To help speed up the project, Fogarty has suggested that any penalties that might be assessed for not meeting the deadline — set at $1,200 a day, or $6,000 a week — could go to pay for overtime for the work crews so that the project can be finished sooner rather than later.
During the project, detour routes are being used by motorists, including Putnam Pike and Pine Orchard Road. A detour map can be found on RIDOT's website.
After work on the bridge is done, the DOT plans to completely repave Putnam Pike and build new sidewalks along the roadway over the course of 2012 and 2013.
In the meantime, construction has just begun on the Chepachet River Bridge on Putnam Pike in the middle of downtown Chepachet. That project will include replacement of the crumbling sidewalks on both sides of the bridge and the addition of new ornamental railings along them.
Construction is expected to be finished before construction season ends in the fall.