DOT closes New Ipswich bridge for reconstructionBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent April 15. 2015 10:52PM
NEW IPSWICH — The Department of Transportation closed the Route 123/124 Junction bridge known as Highbridge Wednesday to begin the replacement of the structure that spans the Souhegan River.
The bridge will remain closed for six months, and is scheduled to reopen in October.
A one-lane, gated temporary bridge that connects Mill Street to Ypya Road is for authorized vehicles only. DOT is barring all unauthorized vehicles from the temporary bridge.
The bridge was closed Wednesday morning, said Mark Moran, DOT construction engineer for the project. Unfortunately, as soon as the closure barricades went up, motorists immediately started turning onto Mill Street to access the temporary bridge, Moran said.
“It was amazing” to see the number of vehicles that turned onto Mill Street and attempted to cross the river via the temporary bridge, Moran said.
The temporary bridge is visible from Route 123/124, which sits above Mill Street. But the temporary bridge is for authorized vehicles only, Moran said, such as emergency vehicles and school buses.
Police were called in to block unauthorized traffic from crossing the temporary bridge, Moran said, but added he is concerned if people keep turning onto the narrow road it could create access problems for emergency vehicles needing to pass, and he urged motorists to follow detours signs.
The project includes the bridge replacement project, reconstruction of the Route 123/124/Turnpike Road, intersection improvements to Route 123/Highbridge Road and roadway and drainage upgrades to Mill Street, Ypya Road, Ypya Drive and the River Road approach to Route 123/124.
The bridge reconstruction project would replace the existing red-listed steel girder bridge with a new single span steel girder bridge.
Like the old bridge that is being removed, this new bridge will sit on top of a historic stone arch bridge built in 1820, Moran said.
On Wednesday morning, workers started stripping the pavement off the bridge surface. Next week, the bridge deck will be removed, Moran said.
“We’ve got some environmental concerns,” Moran said, noting that asbestos in the old bridge will be abated.
Beck and Bellucci, Inc. of Franklin is the primary contractor for the $3.5 million project. The entire project is on target to be completed June 17, 2016.
The bridge is planned to be closed until October 16. Until then, DOT says motorists should use the following routes:
• Route 123 — between Route 124 in New Ipswich and Route 101 in Peterborough.
• Route 101 — between Peterborough and Temple.
• Route 45 — between Route 101 in Temple and Route 123 in Greenville.
• Route 123 — between Greenville and New Ipswich.