New, temporary drawbridge opens; new, permanent bridge to come

Ralph Stewart

With little fanfare, and even less ceremony, the temporary Lagoon Pond drawbridge opened to traffic yesterday afternoon. Police officers stopped traffic at both ends of the bridge. Mass Highway workers moved the orange safety barrels from the new temporary bridge to the roadway leading to the old bridge. Officers on both ends of the bridge simultaneously waved traffic on, and the line of traffic met in the middle of the span.

A few drivers honked horns, a few others gave thumbs up, and there were big smiles all around, including the construction crew that built the bridge. “I’m sure smiling,” said site supervisor Michael Grant. “It’s a good feeling.”

Melinda Loberg, chairman of the drawbridge committee, said she was happy that the bridge was open, though mindful that there is another bridge to build.

“I saw the looks of delight on people’s faces,” Ms. Loberg said. “I could see the satisfaction of the crew that built the bridge. I was thinking ‘OK, part one is done, now we can focus on part two.'”

On Friday at noon, a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned with local, state, and national dignitaries scheduled to attend.

Earlier yesterday, Mass Highway took control of the bridge from Pihl, Inc., the construction firm that built the temporary bridge.

In 2003, MassHighway announced plans to replace the failing Lagoon Pond drawbridge, starting with the temporary bridge that opened yesterday. Next, the old bridge will be demolished. That work has already begun. Work crews have been installing demolition netting under the old bridge, so when demolition crews take it apart, no debris will fall in the water. A crane is due to arrive by barge this week to begin the actual demolition. The center span will be cut into three sections and lifted out. The rest of the bridge will be sliced up in pieces small enough to lift and take away. The permanent bridge is slated for completion in 2013. The cost of the temporary bridge is estimated at $9.3 million and the permanent bridge at $35.7 million.