Two of Concord’s red listed bridges to undergo repairs

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Workers from E.D. Swett work on the bridge over Bela Brook on Hooksett Turnpike near Route 13 in Bow on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Workers from E.D. Swett work on the bridge over Bela Brook on Hooksett Turnpike near Route 13 in Bow on Tuesday, January 19, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Workers from E.D. Swett work on the bridge over Bela Brook on Hooksett Turnpike near Route 13 in Bow on Tuesday, January 19, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Breton, Stefanie—City of Concord

  • The Hooksett Turnpike bridge is closed while repairs are made. City of Concord

Monitor staff
Published: 1/19/2021 4:08:55 PM

Two small bridges in Concord’s southern corner are being replaced and enlarged, as happened two years ago to a similar bridge nearby in Bow, and timing is part of it.

“We’ve had these in our capital budget for a long time. It’s a good thing we got the application in because they’re not taking new applications to the state program, they’ve got such a backlog,” Martha Drukker, associate engineer with the city’s Community Development Department, said about two of the city’s red-listed bridges.

A 16-foot-long span over Bela Brook on the Hooksett Turnpike has been closed to traffic since earlier this month while it is being rebuilt. When that’s done, probably in May, a similar bridge nearby that carries Birchdale Road over Bela Brook will be shut for repairs that should last until November. The contractor, E.D. Swett Inc. of Concord, is taking them in turn because each bridge is part of the detour route for the other.

Birchdale Road went through similar shutdown just over the border in Bow when a bridge that crosses White Brook was closed for more than two years after structural flaws were found during a routine inspection. It was repaired and reopened in 2018.

Both Concord bridges are among 125 on the state’s “red list,” meaning they are badly in need of repair, and both will get 80% of their roughly $1.125 million cost covered by the state’s Bridge Aid Program, which Drukker said is backlogged. The other 20% comes from city funds.

The Concord bridges were both built in the mid-1920’s. They will be completely replaced with slightly larger bridges that, among other things, will allow much wider shoulders for pedestrian traffic and, in the case of Hooksett Turnpike, snowmobile traffic in winter.

Just as importantly, Drukker said, the bridges will be re-engineered to handle stronger flows in their brooks because they were “hydraulically deficient.”

“A 50-year storm it wouldn’t pass it,” Drukker said of the Hooksett Turnpike bridge. “Now they’ll be able to pass a 100-year storm event.”

Many communities are seeking to upgrade bridges and culverts to handle stronger flows because climate change is increasing the strength of rainstorms in the Northeast, causing more flooding events.

The upgrades will also install dry hydrants so that firefighters can draw from the river if necessary. The city water supply does not reach all the homes in this part of Concord.

There bridges on the state’s red list that have been categorized as in poor shape or worse, including 5 in Concord. Some are as large as the bridge carrying Route 9 over the Merrimack River in Concord, which is 525 feet long, but many are small, including some that are just large culverts. Eight have been closed until repairs or replacement can be done.




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