WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Local and state officials announced yesterday that the Pochassic Street Bridge will be open Friday for vehicular traffic. The bridge, known to local residents as the Drug Store Hill Bridge, was closed by state inspectors in January of 2010, during Mayor Daniel M. Knapik’s first week in office. The allowed weight limit for the bridge, one of only two access routes to the Prospect Hill neighborhood, had been downgraded several times in the years prior to closure, prohibiting all commercial trucks and school buses. The new bridge will be open to all classes of vehicles.
City Engineer Mark Cressotti and Michael Verseckes of the state Department of Transportation both announced the anticipated Friday date for opening the new bridge. Verseckes said the project has been completed on schedule and within budget.“Weather permitting, the bridge should be open for use Friday,” Verseckes said. “The project is on budget. The state DOT awarded the $2.6 million project to R. Bates & Sons, Inc., of Clinton. The scope of work included demolition of the existing Pochassic Road Bridge and construction of a new span. That work began in July of 2012.
The city’s Engineering Department released the following statement: “The City of Westfield through Mayor Knapik, the Westfield City Council and its Board of Public Works is pleased to announce on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation the opening to traffic of the Pochassic Street Bridge over Pioneer Valley RR on Friday, June 6, 2014. While no official time has been set, it is anticipated it will be opened to traffic during the afternoon hours.”
The Traffic Commission has discussed the impact of the Pochassic Street Bridge on the traffic pattern of the Elm and North Elm streets corridor. Drug Store Hill will now accommodate three lanes of traffic, one westbound lane up the hill and two eastbound lanes coming down to North Elm Street. The lower section of Pochassic Street, next to Puza’s Butcher Block, is now a one way westbound street. Both lanes of eastbound traffic, coming down from Prospect Street, will be required to make a right turn onto the one-way southbound section of North Elm Street.
Operators of passenger vehicle wanting to access Union Street or to go northbound on North Elm Street will used the round-about just past the Railroad viaduct, while commercial vehicles will have to cross the Westfield River and use the round-about in front of Holy Trinity, then re-cross the river to access Union Street and North Elm Street northbound lanes.
The commission members anticipate a learning curve as Prospect Hill residents adjust to the revised traffic patterns following completion of the Great River Bridge construction and reconstruction projects. The Commission members anticipate that Prospect Hill motorists desiring to go north will continue to use Notre Dame Street.
Media Credit: The Westfield News