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Salem residents along Cover Road worried over bridge work

SALEM — A plan to replace a small bridge extending onto Cove Road Extension with a six-foot pipe on the Arlington Mill Reservoir has some residents concerned.

The pipe would replace an old and structurally unsound bridge that leads to the island on Cove Road extension, according to town engineering director Bob Puff.

“The funding for the project was appropriated as part of the bridge bond funding the Shannon Road and Teague Drive bridges,” said Puff.

The work would take place during the fall after the draw down of the reservoir so that the work could be done at the dry lake level.

However, some Cove Road and Cove Road Extension residents said they are worried that replacing the existing bridge with the six-foot wide pipe would affect water flow to the surrounding coves and increase sediment and debris in the area.

Cove Road Extension resident Vincent V said the current bridge opening is 10-feet wide and is being replaced by a six-foot culvert.

At a recent Conservation Commission meeting, V asked the commission and Puff if they had calculated how the water flow under Cove Road Extension would change.

Puff said that rudimentary calculations showed that there would be a minimal difference in the water flow. He added that there is only water flowing under the bridge during recreational season, and that it is not typically very heavy.

“We believe it is appropriate and is going to mimic the existing condition,” said Puff.

Harry Nelson, who also lives on Cove Road Extension, said he had some hesitation about any plan that restricts the flow underneath the road. However, he said he was happy that a recent neighborhood meeting saw the town agreeing to increase the pipe from a five-foot diameter to a six-foot diameter.

Conservation Commission member Thomas Campbell said the biggest concern is with the flow of sediment and that if neighbors notice an increase as a result of the project, they should notify the town. He added that the current bridge is in bad shape and is in need of replacement.

“I’m surprised it hasn’t collapsed the way it is now,” said Campbell. “It’s probably because there is so little flow going through it and there is so little traffic over the top of it.”

Commission member Linda Harvey said the Conservation Commission’s approval of wetlands work associated with the Cove Road Extension work to the state’s environmental services department would include the concerns raised by the people in the neighborhood.

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