PELHAM — The good news for the town is that the replacement of the Willow Street Bridge is on the state department of transportation’s 10-year transportation plan.
The bad news is that the replacement isn’t scheduled until 2022, and the state doesn’t always keep to its schedule.
“The town is doing what it can to move that date up, but currently, it is scheduled for 2022,” said Selectman William McDevitt.
The bridge is currently not on the state red list of bridges most desperately in need of repair or replacement, and that could delay the project even longer if the town doesn’t decide to take matters into its own hands, according to Town Administrator Tom Gaydos.
“Knowing how the bridge construction works, they tend to give priority to red listed bridges,” said Gaydos.
However, the town is eligible to have the state reimburse up to 80 percent of the cost of the engineering plans for the bridge project.
The town has solicited proposals from engineering firms for that design work in the effort to move the project forward.
“At some point, we might want to go ahead and do the bridge ourselves,” said Gaydos. “Although it does have some wear and tear on it, it is primarily in failure because of traffic going over it, and it’s very narrow.”
McDevitt noted that there are also issues with the bridge having inadequate guardrails.
By having the engineering plans in place, Gaydos said the project could either be more visible on the state’s radar or would be ready to go in case the town decides to do the project itself.
At Town Meeting last year, voters approved using capital funds for the engineering plans.