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Key Bridge for Hamilton Canal Nears Installation in Lowell

September 22, 2018

LOWELL -- The “Signature Bridge” in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, a bridge that city officials say will pull everything together and encourage more development, is about to get installed.

The bridge that will link the Dutton Street and Jackson Street sides of the district is set for installation over the coming weeks.

Contractors recently completed the reinforced concrete bridge footings on both sides of Pawtucket Canal. Officials anticipate that the steel bridge superstructure will be delivered and installed with a crane by the end of October.

The bridge will span the Lower Pawtucket Canal, built between two remnant walls of a former Appleton Mill building.

The $7.6 million bridge project will tie together the separate halves of the 15-acre site, a critical vehicular link between the district that will include the new courthouse complex and parking garage.

The Signature Bridge has been part of the Hamilton Canal Innovation District Master Plan since the plan was first envisioned, said Claire Ricker, chief design planner in the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

“The bridge is critical for the complete development of the district, as it will allow cars and pedestrians to access the district from both the north and the south, traveling by and to businesses that will become tenants in the area,” Ricker said in a statement. “It will also complement the existing pedestrian bridge at Swamp Locks to create a stronger link between the Acre, the district, and downtown Lowell.

“The bridge is essential to meeting at least one of the district’s goals: to replicate the small blocks in downtown that encourage a variety of modes of transportation, stitching together the core downtown streets such as Merrimack and Market and the peripheral streets such as Jackson and Middlesex,” she added.

In addition, Ricker said the bridge will provide two points of emergency access to the district, as well as completing utility loops for water, natural gas, electrical service and high-speed data service.

After bridge installation in October, the contractor will work to secure the superstructure to the substructure, pour bridge sidewalks and hang the utilities installed under the bridge.

Near the bridge, Winn Development plans to construct a 144,000 square-foot mixed-use development. The company plans to develop 118 residential units and 10,000 square feet of commercial/retail space.

The larger Hamilton Canal Innovation District infrastructure project, including the bridge, is scheduled for completion in March 2019; however, for safety and construction staging reasons, the bridge will not officially open to traffic until substantial completion of the parking garage and the Winn Development multi-use project.

The garage is expected to break ground this fall, and it should reach substantial completion by spring 2020. The Winn project is scheduled to break ground in spring 2019.

The Lowell Justice Center is expected to open for business on Jan. 1, 2020.

Officials for years have been touting the potential at the Hamilton Canal Innovation District. They say it will be very pedestrian friendly with wide sidewalks, street trees, retail storefronts and public parks. Canal walks will be developed along the length of all the canals.

The $7.6 million bridge project is entirely funded through state and federal economic development grants.

Lowell received nearly $2.5 million from the federal Economic Development Administration for the project. Infrastructure work at the district has been funded by a $4.7 million MassWorks grant.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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