Willimansett Bridge work to start up again

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says that crews are expected to begin work again on the stalled Willimansett Bridge, as soon as the springtime.

Morse was joined Thursday afternoon by Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos and State Representatives Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) and Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke) for a news conference on the Chicopee side of the bridge to provide an update on the progress of the project. Morse said that the State Department of Transportation has stepped up their efforts to try to move the effort along.

The bridge, which carries Routes 116 and 141 over the Connecticut River between the two cities, has been closed for repairs since 2011. The repair work was about half done when it stopped last year due to the bankruptcy of Pihl Construction; the project’s contractor.

During the news conference, officials said that a new contract could be granted from one week to one month from now, and construction could begin in early spring; when the project was originally scheduled to be complete.

Wagner said that contractors will do a site visit before they put in bids.

Kos and Morse said that they were hopeful that the project could be completed by the end of the year.

This is a state-run project, so the roles of the city governments of Chicopee and Holyoke are to encourage residents to go out and support local businesses affected by the delay. Morse said that Holyoke is already helping those businesses by buying thousands of dollars of gift cards from a pizzeria to donate to schools.

As for relief from the state for businesses, that is uncertain, but Vega said he has tried to push a bill that would do so.

About 40% of the original bid of $21 million has been spent. As for future spending, they are not  sure what the exact price tag will be.

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