GREAT BARRINGTON—Since it was built in 1950, the Division Street bridge connecting Great Barrington and Housatonic has attracted a fair amount of attention.
Structurally very narrow, about 20 feet wide, it’s a close call to have two cars cross the bridge at once, causing drivers to yield or slow down for the other car to pass. There are no sidewalks or shoulders for pedestrians or cyclists, and residents often complain about the weight of two vehicles crossing the bridge at once.
MassDOT has inspected the bridge three times since July 2015 passing the bridge as “fair” according to BridgeReports.com, but the last inspection by MassDOT engineers in July of 2017 raised some flags: finding areas of light to moderate rust, cracks in the overhang, and a corrosion hole, claiming that the bridge has “active deterioration” at the floor beams.
“The concrete wearing surface has heavy wear with wheel rutting, scattered asphalt-filled and some open potholes, numerous sealed transverse and longitudinal cracks, and repair patches along the deck joints,” the report notes.
The bridge was rated as ‘critical’ under the condition rating guide according to the report.
“Advanced deterioration of primary structural elements, fatigue cracks in steel or shear cracks in concrete may be present or scour may have removed substructure support,” the report states. “Unless closely monitored it may be necessary to close the bridge until corrective action is taken.”
Now, proposed in the town’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year, is a near $4 million-request to repair the bridge, adding the Division Street bridge to the list of bridge and road repairs in Great Barrington.
The request comes from Sean VanDeusen, superintendent of the town’s public works.
Since the bridge is not located on a state highway, the bridge would be a town project with the possibility of using some grant money. If not, the bridge will be limited to one lane only or will be closed eventually by the State Department of Transportation.