That drone over the Sewalls Falls Bridge construction was there for a visual purpose

  • The newly rebuilt Sewalls Falls Bridge is almost set to reopen. City officials say the span will be open to the public by mid-November. BELOW: Drone images provided by Todd Woodfin take you from the old bridge in August 2015 (top left) to the nearly completed bridge (bottom right) shown earlier this month. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Drone photos of Sewalls Falls Bridge construction, Sept. 3, 2016. Matthew Woodfin—

  • Drone photos of Sewalls Falls Bridge construction, Aug. 6, 2016. Matthew Woodfin—

  • Drone photos of Sewalls Falls Bridge as the old bridge was removed, Aug. 6, 2015. Matthew Woodfin—

  • Drone photo of Sewalls Falls Bridge as it looked before construction began in August 2015.  Matthew Woodfin—

  • Drone photos of Sewalls Falls Bridge construction on Oct. 6, 2016. Matthew Woodfin—

  • Drone photos of Sewalls Falls Bridge construction on July 7, 2016. Matthew Woodfin—

  • Drone photo of Sewalls Falls Bridge project, July 7, 2016. Matthew Woodfin—

Monitor Staff
Published: 10/29/2016 11:22:31 PM

The job of bringing the Sewalls Falls Bridge into the 21st century has involved hundreds of people working on both banks of the Merrimack River, on derricks, even on boats – plus Matt Woodfin flying overhead.

Well, Woodfin isn’t literally flying. But if you’ve seen a drone flying over the yearlong construction project, he’s probably been the one controlling it as part of a contract with the city to record the process.

“I’ve enjoyed the whole experience. It’s the first construction project I’ve watched all along,” said Woodfin, 22, in a recent interview.

His contract was to take aerial photos and video at least once a month, or more often if necessary.

“With the monthly cadence, you can see the little things that have changed. You’re seeing the methodical process, understand a lot more,” he said.

For example, he said, “I didn’t know they were running gas lines and water lines underneath the bridge. It makes sense but I’d never thought twice about it.”

The 400-foot-long bridge should be open to traffic by mid-November, according to the city engineer’s office. It replaces a dilapidated bridge that had been reduced to a single lane of traffic before it was closed to vehicles entirely due to safety concerns.

The $11 million project connects Sewalls Fall Road with Mountain Road or Route 132 in north Concord. Although it’s not as high-profile as the reconstruction of Main Street downtown, it has drawn a regular cadre of spectators.

“Whenever I’m there, there’s always a good little group of people up there, asking questions,” Woodfin said.

Some of those questions came from reporters: The Monitor’s offices overlook the eastern end of the bridge, which helps explain why this paper has had so many updates.

Woodfin says he’s sure that everybody will appreciate the new bridge’s ability to handle two lanes of traffic, but admits to a bit of nostalgia for the old bridge’s limitations.

“I used to drive over it when I first had my license. It was cool. It subliminally teaches you the right of way,” he said.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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