Covered bridge damaged by Irene is back in place
GREENFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A covered bridge that was knocked off its abutments and damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Irene more than three years ago is back in place and may soon be open to traffic again.
Two cranes lifted the pumping station bridge spanning the Green River into place Thursday after a $1 million repair and restoration project.
“It’s great to be able to bring it back the way it was,” Mayor William Martin told The Recorder (http://bit.ly/1vTATxg ).
Longtime friends Maria Herkner and Pat Webb hugged and yelled, “Hallelujah!” as the bridge was lifted into place.
Herkner and Webb live on opposite sides of the bridge about 2 miles apart, and visits became much more inconvenient when it was out of commission.
A tropical storm by the time it reached New England in August 2011, Irene still packed a punch. The bridge was knocked off the stone abutments, which were also heavily damaged. The bridge’s floor beams were replaced and the walls and roof repaired.
About 60 percent of the repair costs are being picked up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The current bridge was built in 1972. It replaced a 100-year-old bridge that was burned down by vandals in 1969.
It was closed to vehicular traffic in 2002 when it was deemed unsafe, but Martin expects it will be open to foot and vehicle traffic again by Thanksgiving. He plans a formal ceremony at that time.
The pumping station was once a popular spot for swimming, fishing and picnicking, and Martin hopes recreation will be restored there once the bridge reopens and landscaping and roadwork are completed.
“This is a beautiful spot and should be enjoyed by all,” he said.
Information from: The (Greenfield, Mass.) Recorder, http://www.recorder.com