"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

August 22, 2007

Old South St. Bridge Needs A Facelift


Passing over the bridge on Old South St., closest to the intersection in town, and one can't help but notice how badly it is in need of a new paint job. Northamptonist wonders if making some phone calls to the MA State Highway Department would be an effective outlet for this concern. Who's purview does this fall under? Is it the State or City DPW who would be responsible for the bridge upkeep?

The paint is decaying on the whole of the railing, and it almost completely enveloped in rust. This is in contrast to the bridge down the road just 100 hundred yards away.

The paint on that bridge still retains it's color and is not noticeably chipping. We couldn't imagine the requirements of repainting the bridge to be prohibitively expensive, and are happy to see our taxes spent in such a way, in comparison to other outlets the State finds to spend the taxes collected.

Interestingly, while Northamptonist was browsing the MA Highway Dep't site, we noticed they have a new hotline to reach them. Dialing '#321' from a mobile phone will allow you to reach the Highway Dep't's new 24 hour hotline. Northamptonist thinks this is a great feature, it's not unlike nyc's relatively new 311 system, which was rolled out recently and gets tremendous use by the public.

The Massachusetts Highway Department today announced it has launched a 24-hour highway hotline for people to call when they spot locations of concern on our state roads. People are encouraged to utilize the #321 system to call in concerns about catch basins, manholes and other critical issues on highways throughout the Commonwealth. "MassHighway crews monitor our highways around the clock but we can't be in all places at all times," said MassHighway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky. "When drivers come across a location of concern, we want to know about it. The #321 system will ensure we receive the message, so we can address the issue as soon as possible."
Northamptonist gave the new number a try, and sadly, we received this message: "Your call can not be completed as dialed. Please check your number and dial again." We did check the number, and we did dial again. We received the same result. Hopefully they will fix this issue soon, because '#321' is going to be a number we hope to make use out of. In the meantime, you can still reach the MA Highway Dep't central offices via their regular telephone number, 1.888.359.9595, and via their feedback page here.

Mass Highway is separated into five district offices, each covering their own region. Northampton falls under the purview of District 2. The phone number for the District 2 office is 413.582.0599. To find out what highway district you fall under, check the list here.

And to reach the central office in Boston direct, you can email them at feedback@mhd.state.ma.us, or you can contact them directly at the address below.

Massachusetts Highway Department
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3170
Boston, MA 02116
TEL: (617) 973-7800
FAX: (617) 973-8040

We think a nice primary color for the bridge, red perhaps, would be great! Unlike the blue repainting of the Rt. 116 bridge that connects the towns of Deerfield and Sunderland, and which is in bucolic and rural landscape, painting the bridge on Old South St. a color other than green would be a welcome change.

Northamptonist followed up this post with a call to the District 2 office. They are the ones responsible for this bridge, and are aware of the deteriorating condition of the bridge. We were told however, that this bridge, due to its age, is not a simple scrape and repaint job that a crew from District 2 could go out and do themselves. Newer bridges are dealt with that way, as the paint on them is not leaded. This bridge, due to its' age, is painted with lead paint. This requires a bid for repainting to go out for contract, to an outfit that is licensed to clean and properly dispose of lead paint.

We were informed that this is a six figure job, due to a myriad of reasons. With the largest percentage of that cost being the proper marking, removal, transportation, and disposal of the lead paint. All of which is documented and filed every step of the way, with the final destination of the lead paint most likely being in Michigan or New Jersey. Additionally, there are labor costs, and the precautions taken during the removal of the lead paint to contain it, making sure it is not spread around, and protecting vehicular traffic traveling over the bridge from the repainting with the proper containment procedures. They can't just go down there and spray the bridge one-two-three, and be done with it before you noticed they were there.

We inquired what the procedures are for having the repainting done, and were told that a request for repair needs to be sent to the proper office, and the project would then go into a queue. District 2 noted however, that a project such as this would be competing with steel replacement projects, major renovations, and safety issues at other bridges. Northamptonist asked if a job to to repaint this specific bridge was in a queue, and were told that it is not currently in any queue. Inquiring as to whether the public can participate in such a request, we were informed that indeed the public can make such a request, and District 2 encouraged us to do just that.

They instructed us to send a hand written letter to the Director of MA Highway District 2, Albert Stegemann. And to send it to District 2 offices at 811 North King St. Northampton, MA 01060.

Write the letter as a concerned citizen, and make a request to have the bridge repainted. It will be received by the Director, and reviewed. You will receive a letter back.

LABELS: downtown MA highway infrastructure MASS