CANTON - Work is scheduled to begin this summer on two bridges at Grasse River Heritage Park to repair abutments that have been damaged by erosion since the park opened five years ago.
Repair work is needed on the abutment that anchors the large King Iron bridge that connects Coakley and Falls islands over the Grasse River adjacent to U.S. Route 11.
More extensive work is needed on a smaller rail bridge thats along the trail in the 4.4-acre park, said Louis Tremaine, a board member with Grasse River Heritage Area Development Corp.
The abutment on the east side of the rail bridge needs to be completely replaced because both sides are crumbling, he said.
Its clear that abutments on both bridges over time are failing, Mr. Tremaine said Wednesday. The public is not in danger of coming into the park, but were seeing steady signs of deterioration that are not going to stop,
Contract bids are due June 27 and the work should start within the next two months, he said.
Its going to be done this summer, one way or the other, Mr. Tremaine said.
At the King Iron bridge, stone that crumbled away will be replaced and the abutment will be remortared with a stronger material.
The force of the spring ice and logs striking the abutment over time has caused the mortar to deteriorate and therefore some of the stone abutment started to crumble and fall into the river, Mr. Tremaine said.
Work at the rail bridge will require lifting up the bridge, removing the existing abutment and replacing it with a new one, he said, noting that natural ground movement and the impact of the river damaged the abutment at that bridge.
A $94,677 state grant awarded to the Grasse River Heritage in 2010 required a 25 percent local contribution.
The town board agreed to provide half the local share - $11,834 - through cash or by providing in-kind services through its town highway crew. The remaining $11,834 local share will be covered by Grasse River Heritage contributions.
However, after reviewing engineering plans, Town Highway Superintendent Terry Billings said it became clear that his crew did not have the expertise to handle work needed at the rail bridge.
Were not engineers and we simply dont have the expertise for this type of project, Mr. Billings said. We didnt want to be responsible for damaging that bridge in any way.
Town highway crew members discussed the situation with their union president and agreed that they were concerned about taking on the project.
I think the crew made the right decision and I support it, Mr. Billings. It wasnt a matter of them not wanting to do it. We looked long and hard at this project, but theres a lot of issues that make this a project were not capable of doing.
The highway crew can still assist with hauling stone to the site and some clean-up work if necessary, he said.
Town board members agreed at their June 10 meeting to provide the towns share of funding for the bridge work in order to honor the towns commitment to Heritage Park.
Town Supervisor David T. Button said its his understanding the village plans to provide roughly $2,400 through in-kind services to the project, which would leave the town responsible for the remaining local share.
Since the bridge funding wasnt allocated in this years budget, Mr. Button estimated that roughly $8,000 will have to be used from unallocated funds in the towns general budget.
This town board has been committed to supporting the work of Grasse River Heritage, the supervisor said.