Please allow me to address Article 17 that targets money to repair the Fisk Mill bridge via a letter. Unfortunately, my schedule does not allow me to attend the special town meeting.
The Fisk Mill bridge is eligible for federal funding due to its having a span greater than 20 feet. The bridge being listed on the National Bridge Registry requires Mass DOT to conduct inspections every 2 years. DOT engineers most recent survey estimates the bridge to have a service life of 5 to 7 years.
If approved federal dollars will pay 100 % of the cost to reconstruct a complete new bridge. Designs will include widening travel lanes and installing ADA compliant sidewalks. Incorporation of sidewalks also takes into consideration any potential development over the next 75 years.
I realize that securing federal funds is difficult. When approved for federal funds the Fisk Mill bridge will be placed on a priority list. That being understood it could be 10 years before monies would be available for new construction.
Regardless, I argue that the no town money be spent on repairing the bridge until officials file for federal funding.
Worst case scenario is that future Mass DOT inspections rate the structure unsafe and order closed. At that point officials have a choice to close the bridge and see where we stand with a time frame to have federal money build a new bridge or use town money to facilitate limited repairs. The cost to do recommended repairs will not significantly increase over the next 10 years.
I argue that we get a handle on where we stand at securing federal funds that will pay 100% the cost of building a new bridge before spending money to make limited repairs. Officials should continue to investigate federal funding and timelines before moving forward with town money that could be applied to other needs.
William D. Montenegro Upton