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June 12. 2013 8:55PM

Salem selectmen approve $125,000 for engineering study of bridge

SALEM — Following a public discussion Monday evening, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to allocate up to $125,000 in emergency funding toward redesigning the Teague Drive bridge.

The bridge was closed June 5 after it was deemed unsafe by state Department of Transportation officials, with an open sinkhole posing a major hazard to passing motorists.

According to Town Manager Keith Hickey, the bridge culvert has also rusted to the point where it’s unsafe for vehicles to travel.

Hickey said the bridge is around 40 years old and is one of the state’s red-listed bridges. The bridge had remained open up until earlier this month, but traffic had been reduced to a single lane.

Salem has five red-list bridges, with all due for replacement in the coming years.

While the emergency reserve funds will cover engineering costs, the Teague Drive bridge’s reconstruction could cost up to $800,000 more, according to Hickey.

Around 50 homes are located on Teague Drive, and residents have been warned they may need to take a detour for at least a year.

Eight bridges have already been replaced in Salem under the state’s bridge reconstruction program, which allows the town of Salem to get up to 80 percent of construction costs reimbursed.

Hickey said the town would be eligible for reimbursement of engineering costs associated with the Teague Drive bridge redesign.

A warrant item asking voters to approve the bridge’s reconstruction will be placed on the March 2014 Town Meeting ballot, according to Chairman Everett McBride

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