August 22, 2014

Center Street bridge may not need replacement

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com

The Center Street Bridge may not need to be replaced for additional railroad tracks related to the intermodal project, according to Gardner Public Works Director David Greene.

The bridge is the only railroad crossing in town that bypasses BNSF tracks. On Center Street, drivers can pass over the tracks rather than stopping for trains as they must at Moonlight and Waverly Roads.

BNSF officials have said they need additional tracks beneath the Center Street Bridge to service the intermodal project. Originally, officials thought the bridge would need to be redone in order to accommodate new rails. That would likely result in traffic challenges at the location, but Greene said reconstructing the Center Street Bridge may not be necessary.

“(BNSF) has apparently re-evaluated the need to replace that bridge,” Greene said. “Apparently they can get the track modifications in in the available space.”

However, Greene cautioned BNSF has only done preliminary engineering on track replacement beneath the bridge, so there is still a chance the bridge could be replaced.

“But the reconstruction of the bridge sounds like it may not happen,” he said.

Greene issued a press release from the city last week, because HDR, BNSF’s civil engineer for the intermodal project, was in town taking soil samples near the bridge. Their work last week was nothing more than preliminary engineering.

“Actually, it’s preliminary to the design,” Greene explained. “If you do any construction work, you drill into find out what the soil and rock you’re working in.”

The drilling operations did not affect traffic, but Greene said the city issued a press release about the operations so residents would know what was going on.

BNSF representatives did not return phone calls for this story.

On the Web:
BNSF: www.bnsf.com

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