LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a tale of two towns and the literal and metaphorical bridge that connects them.
Bridges span divides and connect people physically, and in this case, metaphorically. For years, the East Street Bridge spanning across the Chicopee River from Ludlow to Wilbraham was in disrepair. Deemed structurally unsafe in 2015, it wasn’t expected to reopen until 2020, but its geographical importance was so great, that communities got together to make sure it opened sooner.
“It really was a great partnership between towns, local government, state government, private construction really working together to get this done, said State Representative Angelo Puppolo.
For more than two years, the bridge closure meant a seven mile detour.
“It’s affected businesses up in Three Rivers as well as convenience stores up along East Street,” said Dennis McCarthy, owner of Leo’s Glassworks, located at the edge of the bridge.
Louisa Bouchard lives down the street from the bridge on the Wilbraham side. She was at a ribbon cutting for the grand reopening of the bridge on Monday: “They’ve really done a nice job of enhancing the neighborhood, so we’re quite pleased.” When asked if it was worth the way, she said, “Worth the wait? I don’t know. I wish it would have been sooner.” She said Ludlow lost her business because it was too difficult to get to.
As dangerous as it was to keep this bridge open for much longer, it was also a hazard to keep it closed. It took people much longer to get to neighboring hospitals in Ware and in Springfield.
“It hindered emergency transportation, it hindered ambulance movement, it limited the ability of first responders to get around the region quickly, so this was a big deal,” said State Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow.
The 2.2 million dollar project was a result of local, state and federal tax money allocated for infrastructure projects.