With the state picking up most of the costs, the Brown Street/Whipple Road Bridge should be repaired and opened to traffic by the end of October.
State Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey visited the bridge on Friday (April 13) and met with local officials from Tewksbury, Wilmington and Billerica.
The meeting was arranged by state Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, who had hoped to get a commitment from the state to build a temporary bridge to re-open the road as quickly as possible, while plans for a permanent fix were finalized. However, according to Patricia Leavenworth, District 4 director for the state DPW, said the difficult logistics would make construction of a temporary bridge on the site take virtually as long as completing the permanent repairs.
"We just want to get it open so people can start driving over it again," Miceli told Davey.
Town officials from Wilmington, Billerica and Tewksbury have been working for several months on plans to repair the bridge, which was heavily damaged by flooding back in 2010. It has been closed for nearly two years. Legally, the bridge is the responsibility of Wilmington and Billerica. but it connects Whipple Road and Brown Street, a popular route for Tewksbury commuters looking to avoid the traffic of Route 38.
"The design plan is nearly complete," said Wilmington Town Manager Michael Caira. There are just a couple of small issues to be resolved. It could be done by as early as (this) week."
Leavenworth said that if the design plans are finalized, the project could be completed within six months. Leavenworth said that rather than going out to bid, the project could be assigned to one of the state's open contracts. She said fabrication of the concrete would take about 12 weeks, while the actual construction would take about 8-10 weeks, putting a completion date somewhere in late October.
Local officials said the remaining costs associated with the design and construction of the bridge have been estimated at around $240,000. State Highway Administrator Frank DiPaola said the state was willing to commit $130,000 toward those costs, with the three towns dividing the remaining $110,000.
Miceli asked Leavenworth to explore the possibility of opening a single lane of the bridge while construction was ongoing. However, Leavenworth did not sound optimistic, given the narrow dimensions of the bridge.
Among those also attending the meeting were Tewksbury Town Manager Richard Montuori and Selectman Doug Sears, state Rep. Paul Adams, R-Andover, state Rep. Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica and Wilmington Public Works Superintendent Donald N. Onusseit.