State Reschedules Rocks Village Bridge Opening for Today; Safety Signage Still Incomplete

The closed Rocks Village Bridge as of Oct. 10, 2022. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

The opening of the Rocks Village Bridge over the Merrimack River, between Haverhill and West Newbury, was rescheduled and now taking place today.

The bridge was set to accept overhead automobile and marine traffic at noon, today, despite earlier announcements of a Monday opening. State officials rejected local calls for a truck exclusion despite 10 major accidents since it was refurbished during 2013 and 2014 at a cost of $12.6 million. Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials say new warning signage is planned, but not completed.

“In conjunction with the repairs to the bridge, MassDOT has developed a local and regional warning signage plan highlighting the 12’ 6” vertical clearance restriction on the bridge. The signage plan is in the fabrication stage with the majority of the signs expected to be installed during the month of October.  In the interim, a series of portable changeable message signs will be used to advise drivers of the restriction,” officials said in a Monday statement.

State crews and contractors completed a series of emergency repairs to restore the structural capacity of the bridge after an over height truck struck it March 17, this year. Last month, WHAV reported state Highway Division Legislative Liaison Daniel Fielding estimated the latest repair costs totaled around $2 million. The amount is expected to be reimbursed from the truck owner’s insurance company.

Last week, city councilors, led by Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, were critical of the state’s refusal to consider a total truck ban. Sullivan did not give up hope, however, saying Gov. Charlie Baker and the secretary of the Mass. Department of Transportation will not be in office that much longer.

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