Construction of new drawbridge begins

A crane aboard a construction barge is in place near the temporary drawbridge. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Updated 2:45 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Construction of the new permanent Lagoon Pond drawbridge is underway. The contractor, Middlesex Corporation, moved a large work barge with a crane into the channel, where they will begin building the support for the bascule, or movable part of the permanent drawbridge. They are expected to begin driving large piles some time in December. All work in the water must stop on January 15, to protect sea life.

Motorists were delayed Tuesday morning when engineers lifted the temporary drawbridge for about 15 minutes for annual maintenance. The maintenance was not related to construction of the new drawbridge.

According to Melinda Loberg, chairman of the drawbridge committee, the contractors expect no delay in vehicle traffic during construction.

According to MassDOT, the initial construction estimate for the permanent drawbridge was $37.9 million, but the value of the contract awarded is $43.7 million. The state expects to complete the bridge project in June of 2016. The original construction schedule called for the permanent bridge to open this year, but the project has been delayed by a lengthy review process.

MassDOT announced plans in 2003 to replace the failing Lagoon Pond drawbridge in two phases, starting with the temporary bridge that opened in January 2010, built at a cost of $9.3 million.

MassDOT gave two basic reasons for its two-phase plan. Building a temporary bridge allowed vehicular traffic to be rerouted during the construction of the permanent bridge, and also allowed the drawbridge to continue to accommodate boat traffic, especially for emergency refuge in Lagoon Pond for boats in the harbor. And, engineers believed there was considerable risk that even with repairs, the existing bridge would fail before a permanent new bridge could be built.