By Alex Lippa Staff Writer
Newburyport Daily News
---- — GROVELAND — It’s up to Mother Nature.
Progress is continuing to be made on the Groveland Bridge and construction is still expected to be completed sometime in 2014 — if we have a relatively mild winter.
Joe D’Amore, a Groveland School Committee member, has been keeping close tabs on the project and has been in touch with Vince DeAngelo, the resident engineer for the project.
“They are on track to be finished all work by June of 2014,” D’Amore said. “It’s subject to change based on if we get a bad winter or not.”
The state’s official website says that the project is 62 percent complete as of the beginning of October, with construction scheduled to end in the spring of 2014.
The bridge crosses the Merrimack River, connecting the Riverside section of Haverhill with Groveland. The state is building a new bridge because the old Groveland Bridge is deteriorating.
Traffic is still open on the old bridge as the new bridge is being built next to it. After the new bridge is opened, it will take workers a few months to remove the existing bridge.
The construction has affected traffic on both sides of the bridge. In Groveland, traffic sometimes backs up on Routes 97 and 113 for more than a half-mile.
“A lot of it is attributable to the construction,” D’Amore said. “Since school has started, the traffic has really picked up.”
On the Haverhill side of the bridge, a stop sign was installed at the end of Groveland Street to help alleviate traffic concerns.
“I think that the stop sign has been a good thing,” Haverhill City Councilor Robert Scatamacchia said. “It was put in because of all the confusion from the construction and I really thought there should have been one there for a long time.”
The $49.7 million project started in late 2009. The project calls for a new 775-foot bridge to be constructed 60 feet downstream from the existing bridge.
D’Amore said the progress has become more visually apparent since May, when workers started working on what he called the “super structure.’’
“People have seen the addition of some large beams and it makes it seem as if the project is rapidly accelerating,” D’Amore said. “It’s caused a lot of excitement.”
D’Amore said a new bridge is long overdue.
“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “The current bridge is very small and not that wide. If there is ever a backup, it’s hard for emergency vehicles to cross. It becomes a dangerous situation.”
In addition to the new bridge, the project also calls for traffic signal improvements at the intersection of Groveland Street with Lincoln Avenue in Haverhill and on Main Street near Elm Park in Groveland. The project is being paid entirely by the state and federal governments.