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The bridge on McGaw Bridge Road over Baboosic Brook in Merrimack will soon be reconstructed. (Kimberly Houghton)

Historic Merrimack bridge to be replaced

MERRIMACK — Local and state officials are working to finalize construction plans for a new bridge on McGaw Bridge Road, which has been included on the state’s red-list of bridges for several years.

“The bridge is not salvageable due to its age and condition. It is an old bridge,” said Kyle Fox, deputy director of the town’s Public Works Department.

The historic bridge over Baboosic Brook has been authorized for reconstruction in fiscal year 2015, and Fox is hopeful that work will begin either this fall or early next spring.

A hole within the deck of the bridge was discovered more than a month ago, according to Fox, who said barriers were placed along the edge of the structure to protect the bridge and the public.

As part of the replacement project, the Preservation Company of Kensington was hired to explore the historical nature of the McGaw Bridge Road bridge, which was originally constructed in 1915.

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources has analyzed those findings and determined that the bridge is eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This eligibility could impact how the existing bridge is replaced, said Fox, adding input is being sought from neighbors and property owners about the matter. A meeting was held Thursday to gather ideas and consider solutions to mitigate the historic impacts associated with the bridge replacement.

Lynne Monroe of the Preservation Company shared her findings with town staff and local abutters.

“The Division of Historical Resources will make the final assessment on mitigation,” explained Fox.

Once the aging bridge is razed, Fox said a new, wider-span high beam bridge with a concrete deck will be constructed. He anticipates work to take about 8-12 months, with a detour route along the Daniel Webster Highway.

The estimated cost for the project is about $1.6 million, according to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s latest status report on red-listed bridges.

The state is expected to pay 80 percent of the project, or about $1.3 million, and the town is planning to fund the remaining 20 percent of the project, or about $329,408, according to the status report.

“Once this goes out to bid we will know the final numbers. The planning for this bridge project has been in the works for a long time,” Fox said.