Haverhill Balks at State Plan to Allow Rocks Village Truck Traffic Again After Repairs

State officials closed the Rocks Village Drawbridge March 17, between Haverhill and West Newbury. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

While repair work continues on the Rocks Village Bridge, motorists remain frustrated by its closing and, as Haverhill city councilors learned this week, there is no real plan in place to keep that damage from occurring again.

The bridge was closed to traffic after it was hit by an over height tractor-trailer in March of this year. That accident was the third time in three years the bridge sustained damage because of large trucks. Since then, Haverhill’s state Rep. Andy X. Vargas has been in discussions with the state Department of Transportation to have them ban large tractor-trailer type vehicles from using the bridge Despite that, Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan said MassDOT is reluctant to make that exclusion.

“They don’t believe that they can, under state law, do a truck exclusion there. What we may end up with is a bar, located somewhere on either side of the bridge or in the middle of the bridge and if the truck hits that bar, they’re going to know that they shouldn’t be on that bridge,” he said.

He noted both West Newbury and Haverhill agree a ban is necessary. Sullivan called the proposed pole solution “insane” and suggested he, speaking for the City Council, write a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, Haverhill’s state representatives and state transportation officials to get some heavy hitters on their side.

Council Vice President John A. Michitson agreed, pointing out the need for a truck exclusion is obvious.

“I think this is basically disrespectful to the neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge. This is just plain and simple common sense,” he said.

Councilors agreed and voted unanimously to go ahead with reaching out to the state’s top brass.

In unrelated action, the Council approved a request by City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. to revise the Central Business District Parking Map to address a parking space conflict in front of the Washington Square bus station.

“Currently, we have both a regulation for a bus stop at that spot and for these two 15-minute spaces at that spot. So, we’re requesting that you approve the revised Central Business District Parking Map that would remove the 15-minute spots and leave just the bus stop,” Cox explained.

Cox said the conflict occurred when the bus stop was inadvertently not included in the creation of the parking map. The bus station is operated by the Merrimac Valley Transit Authority.

Council passed the request by a unanimous 9-0 vote.

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