BNSF officials have confirmed that the wooden Elm Street viaduct will be demolished to accommodate track construction for the new intermodal facility. The bridge is expected to be taken down in early 2012. Staff photo by Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor
The days are numbered for the old, wooden viaduct spanning Elm Street in downtown Gardner.
BNSF, which owns the bridge, plans to demolish it early next year to make way for track construction for the intermodal logistics park scheduled to open in late 2013.
“I think they are eventually going to tear it down, but not until the first quarter of next year,” said Andy Williams, BNSF spokesperson.
The historic bridge, which is believed to have been built sometime between the late 1800s and the early 1900s, was closed in early 2005 due to structural concerns.
Before the bridge was closed to traffic, it had a single lane crossing for vehicles, spanning the railroad tracks and connecting Elm and Kane streets.
Neighbors say the bridge was popular with train enthusiasts who often stood the bridge to take  photographs of oncoming trains.
BNSF granted the city of Gardner an aerial easement for a future pedestrian overpass at Elm Street as part of an agreement to sell the railroad .434 acres of city-owned land for the track realignment project.
Although there are no plans for a pedestrian bridge at this time, the aerial easement is good for 10 years and can be renewed by both parties.
The exact age of the bridge is not known to local historians.
According to Virgina Armstrong Johnson’s “Gardner: Where the Trails Divide” the city council passed an ordinance sometime between 1886 and 1907 vacating portions of Kane Street between Elm and Center streets for the construction of viaducts.
The ordinance was not dated in Johnson’s book.