WINCHESTER - Two bridge projects continue to move forward with one ready to begin this year. The penultimate flood mitigation project, the Swanton Street bridge culvert, could begin this spring. The Lake Street bridge project, meanwhile, remains without a timetable (the project currently sits in the permitting phase and could go out to bid this November).

Almost two years ago, Town Manager Lisa Wong informed the Select Board the Lake Street bridge (off Main Street near Wedge Pond) was in poor condition. She said the bridge had been inspected by Weston & Sampson. She added how the state has no inspection system for any bridge under 20 ft (the Lake Street Bridge is 16 ft).

This week, Town Engineer Beth Rudolph said Weston & Sampson evaluated both a full bridge closure and a staged construction that would keep one lane open. Because of the disparity in price and duration, $1.49M and 120 days (with the bridge closed for 60 days) for a full closure versus $1.9M and 210 days to keep one lane open, she recommended a full closure.

She also recommended the full closure because town meeting already appropriated $1.5M for the project at a previous session. If the town chose the staged construction, it could have to go back to town meeting to ask for more money.

However, Rudolph noted the town is evaluating the addition of a temporary pedestrian bridge or improving the bikeway, either of which could inflate the cost. Regardless, she admitted she doesn’t yet know when the project could start (though she suggested it might begin in the winter to avoid some restrictions if it started in the spring).

“Lake Street surprised us,” Select Board Chair Micheal Bettencourt admitted. “We addressed it more narrowly than we would have liked.”

The Swanton Street bridge culvert, on the other hand, should begin this spring with a bridge closure scheduled for June 15 - Sept. 15. The project went to MAS Building and Bridge Inc. for nearly $3M. The town engineer mentioned holding public meetings in early spring to gather input from residents. She also noted Toole Design Group will be assisting with traffic impacts and project messaging.

Once complete, it leaves the town with only the Muraco School culvert project to go until its finished all the flood mitigations projects it started two decades ago. That project still requires funding and the Select Board will ask voters to approve an override this spring.

Overall, as DPW Director Jay Gill noted, it will be a busy summer in Winchester.

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