Aerial view of Merrimack River.
City officials are getting ahead of a construction project that could cause travel headaches for Haverhill residents in a few years. One idea includes a temporary bridge across the Merrimack River.
City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua made a motion at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to ask Mayor James J. Fiorentini to explore temporary options to maintain steady traffic flow to and from Bradford when the Basiliere Bridge is repaired or replaced.
“When Harbor Place caused the closure of parts of Merrimack Street and parts of the bridge, it became a hardship in terms of access to and from the different parts of the city,” said Bevilacqua. “The neighbors were talking about what will happen if in fact the Basiliere Bridge is totally closed or partially closed,” he added.
There are no current plans for the bridge, connecting Bradford to Merrimack Street and Riverside to be demolished or reconstructed anytime soon. However, city officials at the meeting agree the bridge is in poor condition. One solution offered by Bevilacqua is to install a temporary bridge somewhere adjacent to Basiliere Bridge.
A $64 million plan to replace the Basiliere Bridge was postponed earlier this year until at least the year 2021. According to Councilor Colin F. LePage, the Council’s request to the mayor will allow the city to be prepared when the funding does come through several years from now.
“It’s good to have a plan B or a contingency plan,” LePage said. “We had the same problem with the Comeau Bridge. It was closed down for a lot longer than we expected and now you don’t think about it but how much a pain it was to get around the city not being able to use that span. ”
“I believe that any plans would have the bridge remaining open,” said Council Vice President Melinda Barrett.
The Council voted unanimously to recommend that the mayor begin looking into temporary bridges or alternative means of travel to and from Bradford.