New Lagoon Pond bridge rededicated to veterans

Veterans Woody Williams, Jo Ann Murphy, Gene DeFelice, Vern Oliver, Ronald Klein, Peter Hermann, and Dave LaRue were on hand for the rededication of the Lagoon Pond bridge on Thursday morning.

The new Lagoon Pond bridge was rededicated on Thursday, Nov. 10, to the veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Several veterans attended the brief ceremony, held in relatively balmy late fall weather under brilliant sunshine, on the east side of the bridge near Eastville Beach.

The old drawbridge was opened in 1935 with a vertical clearance of 15 feet and a horizontal clearance of 30 feet. 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. The original construction schedule called for the permanent bridge to open in 2014, but the project was delayed by a lengthy review process.

The new structure is a seven-span bascule bridge with greater under-bridge access, pedestrian walkways, a bike path, and a protective fender. The bascule or drawbridge is “opened and closed by a pivoting weight without any raised suspension supports,” according to a DOT press release.

The bridge’s designer, William Varrell of Parsons, a Boston engineering firm, has been working on the project since 2006. “The stone [in the central pier] matches a stone bank in town,” he said, referring to the Santander Bank on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. “Originally we made the roof contemporary, but people wanted it to fit in with the Island, so we used the cedar shingles. It fits; it doesn’t stand out.”

Jacquelyn Goddard, the communications director for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), said that the new bridge opening is actually east of the old one because the navigation channel had migrated since the old bridge was built. “It was a complicated procedure,” she said of the engineering required to keep a passage open while the new span was completed.

“The old bridge was dedicated to the veterans,” said Paul Haznar, the project developer for District 5 of MassDOT, “and we didn’t want to change that.” The new plaque is affixed to the west side of the bridge, facing Vineyard Haven.