Department of Public Works Director Peter Buttkus said Monday that the contractor is currently installing the large fiberglass jackets that will wrap the worn wooden piles to protect them from further damage.
“That is the meat and potatoes of the repair,” said Buttkus.
Next week, Buttkus said he expects divers to do the underwater work, digging down 18 inches under the mud to secure the wrappings.
“Once the piles are completed, the grouting and cement work will go quickly,” Buttkus said.
The fiberglass jackets will be tinted with a gray epoxy coating to blend into the color of the 25-year-old wooden bridge. Buttkus expects the whole project to take three to four weeks.
“At that point, we’ll do a load test with Mass Department of Transportation and as soon as we have the load test results, Mass Highway will let us reopen the bridge to the four ton limit,” he said.
The town is anxious to re-open the bridge for emergency vehicle access and in anticipation of the summer beach season. Town Manager Richard MacDonald has reported weekly on the progress of the repair project to the board of selectmen.
MacDonald ordered the bridge closed in November after Mass DOT issued a report stating that the bridge had more severely deteriorated piles than previously thought. Last year, residents approved $2.4 million to wrap 160 severely deteriorated piles with fiberglass and address structural issues with cap beam connections underneath the bridge’s deck. The connections are the cause of the bridge’s lowered load rating.
Buttkus said the town’s bridge committee is currently working on the specifications for the larger project and expects to have those plans done this week and be put out to bid soon.
“We’ll start that work as soon as we can in the spring,” said Buttkus. “The bridge can stay open. It won’t impact summer traffic.”
According to Buttkus, once the rest of the piles are repaired, the structural work under the decking will begin in the fall and that will bring up the load rating “substantially.”
The bridge’s load rating has fallen from 15 tons to 8 tons.
Buttkus said he may have to close one lane or order temporary closures in the fall when the structural work is performed under the bridge’s decking.