City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien.
Haverhill City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien is spearheading the city’s push to fast track replacement of the I-495 bridges over the Merrimack River near Ward Hill.
Last week, 10 automobiles were sidelined with flat tires after striking a pot hole on the southbound side of the bridge. The councilor plans to formally ask the state to speed up replacement of the 55-year-old bridge.
“Ask the mayor as well as my fellow city councilors to address a letter to Rep. (Brian S.) Dempsey and our other members of our delegation to put it forward. I trust Brian explicitly and I know he’ll do the right thing.”
Daly-O’Brien said she has already informally called Dempsey about moving up the timetable to replace the failing bridge. It’s time to end the patchwork of repairs, she said.
“It’s going to be one more thing. It’s going to be another little repair that falls apart in so many months and it’s intolerable. That is a huge bridge. There is an enormous amount of traffic on 495 and this really has to be addressed.”
A $50 million bridge replacement project is supposed to begin modestly this fall with a $12 million down payment by the state and federal governments. However, an initial timetable suggests it will take three years to complete the work.
O’Brien said, as an elected official, she fully understands how money issues slow down critical projects.
“I know the infrastructure of Massachusetts as well as the United States has taken a toll because money has been spent in other ways, and I totally get it. We make choices like that all the time at city council about which way we’re going to spend our money.”
O’Brien reflected on earlier mishaps involving the Interstate bridge.
“We’ve had numerous problems with the bridge. I think back about the poor llama that almost got thrown off the bridge in a trainer. And then it was followed some months later by, I think it was, a horse trailer. So, what’s next? Is it going to be a human life that is taking a toll?”
Last week’s pot hole opened in the usual place—the southbound bridge between exits 49 and 48, police said.