City Moves to Reduce Lane Restrictions at Snow’s Brook Bridge along North Avenue

(File photograph.)

Although the roadways can’t be opened completely, Haverhill City Councilors Tuesday night learned lane restrictions at Snow’s Brook bridge along North Avenue can be lessened.

City Councilors William J. Macek and Thomas J. Sullivan explained the safety of the bridge has been in question since 2017 when MassDOT reported bridge rails had deteriorated considerably. The city erected concrete barriers to keep traffic away from the center of the bridge, but the state now says those barriers are no longer adequate. Sullivan said a new barrier and sand-filled barrels create their own problems.

“The issue is that when the put the barriers in—they put barrel configuration around the barriers to protect the barriers and to protect people from crashing into the barriers. The problem is the current configuration extends into the road, narrowing the width of the roadway and it’s a problem,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he spoke with City Engineer John H. Pettis III who said he believed they could rework the barrel configuration so that it would not block the roadway as significantly.

The councilor said the larger issue, though, was moving the project along as quickly as possible. He noted that the city has done its part in that plan by coming up with the money needed to get the engineering portion of the project off the ground.

“The good news is we just appropriated $853,000 for the engineering part of this, so that means we are moving forward,” he said.

Sullivan made the motion Haverhill petition the state to start work on the bridge as soon as the engineering portion is completed rather than waiting for what could be two years or more should the state get bogged down because of the coronavirus.

Councilor Macek added to the motion the need for signage to be put into place now and while work is being conducted.

“One of the things I think we should probably add to our motion is to put up some signage before they get to the bridge; a truck, a car, that there is a narrow bridge and to slow down,” Macek suggested.

The councilor also said the city should look to see if speed and weight limits may be applicable.

Members voted to send a letter outlining those requests to the mayor and the city engineer and to send a similar copy to state delegates asking them to do what they could to help expedite the project. Similar road narrowing is also taking place where Rosemont Street crosses Little River.

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