Bridge closure worries Charlemont residents

Alternate route said to be impassable during the wintertime

CHARLEMONT, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation found structural defects, and ordered the 70 year-old West Oxbow Road Bridge in Charlemont closed for repairs. Residents of West Oxbow Road gathered at the bridge Friday to tell 22News they depend on this bridge every day. Without it, they are stranded in the winter.

They said that the recommended alternate route around the bridge is impassable during the winter.

“It’s going to be misery. Awful misery. What’s going to happen in the winter? What’s worse to come- like in the wintertime we lose our power,” Chuck Coates of Charlemont said.

“We cannot get out, the road they’re telling us to use has not been maintained by the town for years,” Amy Coates of Charlemont said.

The real crunch may come next Wednesday, the first day of school. While the “Bridge Closed” signs have yet to be posted, Amy Coates has been advised that school buses will not cross this structurally-defective bridge. And there are concerns about the buses negotiating the detour after the snow falls.

Coates and her neighbors would like the state to install a temporary bridge. MassDOT has yet to commit. A Transportation Department spokesman explained that MassDOT inspected the aging bridge, but the town owns it.

MassDOT agreed to study the problem.

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