The Pepperell covered bridge replacement project is being managed by the Massachusetts Highway Department. Pepperell's Town Engineer, Bob Lee, is the local contact for residents with questions about the project. The general contractor awarded the project by MassHighway is S&R Corporation of Lowell, Massachusetts.
A bridge is believed to have been at Groton Street crossing of the Nashua River since about 1740, with a covered bridge having been there since 1847, although it has been replaced several times. The current bridge has been in place since 1963 and is now in need of replacement due to structural wear. A similar bridge will soon take its place (see artist renderings of proposed bridge). Susan Smith of the Pepperell Historical Commission and President of the Pepperell Historical Society offers a more complete history of the bridges over the Nashua River, including photographs of many of the previous bridges on the Groton Street site.)
The covered bridge was closed to vehicular traffic on April 7, 2008. The current estimate is that the replacement project will run through 2009. Pedestrian traffic across the river is expected to be able to continue throughout the bridge replacement project by way of a temporary pedestrian bridge.
The detour around the covered bridge was designed to keep the majority of traffic on the state numbered routes 111 and 113 (Nashua Road, Hollis Street, and Main Street) rather than the on the Town streets (Mill, Groton, or Tucker) in order to avoid major traffic congestion at the awkward and potentially dangerous Mill St.-Main St. intersection. Your cooperation is appreciated.
- Updates from the Town Engineer -
September 4, 2010
The Pepperell Covered Bridge Committee hosted a day-long Grand Opening Celebration of the new Pepperell Covered Bridge that included several guest speakers, music from the Nashoba Valley Chorale, members of the 6th Middlesex Regiment in period costumes, a re-enactment of the Prudence Wright incident at the site of the bridge in 1775, a parade of antique cars, and a full afternoon of events on the Town Field. Local historian, Susan Smith, was the master of ceremonies.
Representative Robert Hargraves officially announced that the bridge will be named the Pepperell Covered Brdige, following the will of the residents of Pepperell who participated in a survey last year.
More information is available on the Pepperell Covered Bridge Committee website.
July 30, 2010
After a musket volley from John Greenwood, a resident of Pepperell and member of the 6th Middlesex Regiment of Militia dressed in classic 1775 colonial militia clothing, a procession of teh first three cars drove across the new Pepperell Covered Bridge today. The first and third vehicles, pick-up trucks courtesy of Conway Chrevolet, carried townspeople who have made notable contributions to the bridge and the town past and present. In the first vehicle were: Dick Conway, Amos Mahony, Ruth Seifert, Burt Lynde, Joe Sergi, Robert Hargraves, Peter Shattuck, John McNabb , and Jim Dunn. The second vehicle was driven by Pepperell's John Masiello, who won the Covered Bridge auction and had his grandson, John, along for the ride. The third vehicle carried: Bob Russell, Jerri Bozicas, Ann Shattuck, Kim Spaulding, Jeff Sauer, Gary Giguere, and Bill Boettcher.
More information is available on the Pepperell Covered Bridge Committee website.
June 8, 2010
The Pepperell Covered Bridge took a big step towards completion this morning when the east side (downstream) sidewalk was opened to the public for pedestrian use. The west side sidewalk will be opened after the adjacent temporary bridge is taken down, an operation already begun.
As can be seen by these photos, the site work is also nearly complete. So it won’t be long before the project is complete and the bridge opened for traffic!
You are welcome to come down to the bridge, walk across the new structure along the sidewalk, and view it from ‘up close’ before it opens to automobile traffice.
May 17, 2010
As you can see from these pictures, the Covered Bridge project is really close to completion. Although we are now 27 months after it started and 8 months late, the new bridge is still something to see. The first picture (left), without any siding, was taken last Wednesday, May 5, 2010 just after they finished putting the roof on. This is one of the last pictures of the bridge’s ‘skeleton’. The second picture (right) was taken Thursday, May 13, 2010 and shows the siding going up. The siding should be finished imminently, and after that only the ‘boxing-in’ of the four corners and the soffits under the roof overhangs will be all that’s left to do besides painting and small detail work. This bridge seels huge inside! It was very deceptive until the walls and roof went on – it almost looks like the old bridge would have fit inside! The ‘nailers’ for the siding you see is 4x4 and 4x6 lumber – positively enormous! This bridge sure won’t be blown away in a storm. The contractors also poured the last sections of sidewalk today so the only site work remaining is the paving, curbing, a couple of small drainage structures, and restoring the site. I also met at the site with Mass Highway today to go over the site improvements I’ve planned for their construction staging area, right next to the corner of the bridge. That might be done in a couple of weeks too. May just be ready for the 4th of July after all!!!.
February 19, 2010
The Covered Bridge reached a major milestone this week with the removal of all the temporary steel supports and the assembly platform. The Covered Bridge is now a self-supporting timber-constructed structure! As you can see from these photos from today, the next step, the roof trusses, are half installed and the structure is now starting to look like a true covered bridge.
Still much work left to be done but to be at this stage in the project is the best sign of progress since the work began a little over two years ago.
February 5, 2010
The timber work on the Covered Bridge is nearing completion. Most of the main structural timber members are in place. There are two remaining long beams that will run along the outside of the bridge but those cannot be installed until the temporary steel (holding up the temporary installation platform) is removed. This week much time was spent tightening all the bolts and fasteners to the specified tightness. The remaining work now includes the roof trusses and the roof itself (red cedar shakes), the siding, the bridge railing, final utility connections, and the final surface work. The structural components of the two approach spans have been complete for some time so we’re getting closer to the long-awaited opening of the Covered Bridge!
I’ve been asked frequently about the size of the future bridge: the center span (which really is the Covered Bridge) is 94’ long and along with two 46’ approach spans, the total length of the bridge is 186’. The bridge will be 47' 8" wide, with two 12' 1 1/4" travel lanes and pedestrian walkways on both sides.
December 15, 2009
After many delays, the timber beams are now being installed on the Covered Bridge! As you can see from these photo, the contractor changed his construction technique. They were going to pre-assemble the structure adjacent to the river and set it into place with the huge crane now on site. However, concerns over the total weight being lifted, as well as the very limited tolerance that would be required for an exact fit when the structure was set into place, has ultimately led to a different approach. What they ended up doing was setting up a temporary working platform (see photo on right) so the main carrying beams could be set into place one piece at a time by the crane with workers accessing the beams from below. When enough of the main carrying beams and structural components are set into place, the temporary working platform will be removed and the remainder of the bridge constructed by working on these beams. MassHighway believes the installation using this method will take no longer than the pre-assembly method would have, and that progress should really move now. The completion of the entire project, however, will extend into 2010 because some of the remaining work cannot be done in the winter.
November 6, 2009
After quite a few weeks of limited activity at the site of the Covered Bridge, work is about to really pick up. According to information from Mass Highway, the contractor will be at the site the week of November 9th to complete the necessary “pre-assembly” work. Delivery of the timber structure, which was completely assembled at the manufacturer’s facility in New York State and recently disassembled for shipment, will soon follow. There is also talk about working extended hours in the hope that the bridge can be completed before the winter weather hits – we’ll see.
There has been a change in the construction technique that will be used – the original plan was to use “modular” construction and install sections of the bridge that would be assembled adjacent to the final bridge location. The revised plan is to use more traditional “stick-built” construction, assembling the timber structure directly on the piers and abutments with no pre-assembly – this plan requires a final engineering approval, but Mass Highway says that it should take no longer using the revised method. Keep an eye on the site over the next two weeks as there should be major progress and our Covered Bridge will begin to take shape!!
September 8, 2009
Although progress may appear slow at the site of the Covered Bridge, the most tangible progress to date is actually ongoing. The construction of the actual Covered Bridge timber structure is well underway in upstate New York where the company, Una-Lam, is constructing the bridge at their site. When completed, and after passing all the inspections required by Mass. Highway and the contractor S&R Construction, it will be disassembled and shipped to the Pepperell site – this is expected to occur sometime in September. Thanks to Pepperell resident and now Covered Bridge expert Dave Pease, we have this photograph (right) of the construction of the bridge. The re-assembly of the bridge in Town should be quite an operation – keep an eye out for that to begin!!!
August 3, 2009
The Covered Bridge Project is entering its final phase. The cement concrete road bases having been installed on the two approach slabs, as shown in the composite photograph (below). The final step will be the on-site assembly of the actual timber center span structure, which is being built at this time in upstate New York. The assembly will be completed there, scheduled to be the end of this month, then the entire bridge will be disassembled and shipped to Pepperell, where it will be reassembled on site atop the new slabs. The schedule for shipping the timber structure to Town has been pushed back to the second week in September, meaning the completion of the project is now scheduled to be in November, instead of October. However, the contractor and Mass Highway still feel comfortable about completion in 2009.
On a related issue, the Town has received permission from the owner of the land on which the construction staging area is located, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, to restore the area when the project is complete so as to provide the Town with a River Access and Scenic View area directly adjacent to the bridge. The Town Engineer is dealing with the contractor, Mass Highway, and various civic groups on this project, which will include a parking area, a walking path, and features in the area such as a historical kiosk, the reinstallation of the Prudence Wright Monument, benches, and sections of both the 1848 and 1962 Covered Bridges at this site. With the project finishing up so late in the year, the River Access and Scenic View improvements will be started this year but completed in the spring of 2010. It should be a great spot for residents to enjoy the Nashua River and one of the Town’s best known attractions, the Covered Bridge!
April 1, 2009
The new piers for the Covered Bridge are now nearly complete. The South Pier is having its cement concrete cap installed and has all of the facia stone installed, which came out looking very sharp! The northern pier is still covered with a tarp to allow the facia stone on that pier to cure properly (it is temperature controlled under the tarp) and to make sure the granite stones stay where they were installed. The contractor informs us that the construction of the actual timber Covered Bridge is about to begin at an offsite location – it will be completely constructed there, then disassembled, shipped to the site, reassembled, and reconstructed in a modular fashion on the new piers. This offsite construction should be completed by July. Until then, the contractor must remove all the temporary sheeting and construct the approach spans on each side. The contractor says that the project is still on schedule for completion by the end of October 2009.
February 5, 2009
The southern pier of the Covered Bridge was constructed this week. The form work is now wrapped with insulation and is being kept warm so that the concrete can cure properly. Work has started on the northern pier with pumps now removing water from the cofferdam on that side – the pier base has already been constructed so the next work you’ll see will be the installation of reinforcing bars, then the formwork, followed by the concrete pour.
October 9, 2008
The demolition of the piers and abutments appear to be nearing completion, which should be followed by construction of the new piers and abutments soon. Although that pier and abutment work will probably go straight through until next spring, when the new timber covered bridge should be arriving on site for assembly. Actually bridge construction should take another 4 months approximately, followed by the approaches on both ends, and project completion about a year from now.
August 25, 2008
The Covered Bridge has now been demolished and removed. Only the concrete footings remains. Pedestrian traffic continues across the termporary pedestrian bridge. Please observe all signs and directions at the site when using the temporary bridge.
August 8, 2008
The temporary pedestrian bridge located on the upstream side of the Covered Bridge, which also serves as a bridge to temporarily relocate existing utilities, is now open for use. The Covered Bridge is now closed to all pedestrian traffic (and has been closed to all vehicular traffic since March). Please observe all signs and directions at the site when using the temporary bridge as the demolition of the existing Covered Bridge continues.
July 30, 2008
Demolition of the existing Covered Bridge has begun and continues as the work on the temporary utility/pedestrian bridge nears completion. The water line has been relocated, the relocation of the gas line is pending, and the walkway surface is also nearly complete. When the temporary bridge opens, the pace of the demolition of the existing bridge should pick up speed and when completed, work will begin on the abutments and piers.
June 25, 2008
The temporary utility pedestrian bridge is being installed. The work on the abutments for this temporary structure has been ongoing for the past two weeks and the bridge is now being assembled on site, on the Railroad Square side of the Nashua River where it will then be slid out over the river and installed in place. After that, the existing utilities that run under the old bridge will be reinstalled beneath the temporary bridge and a fence will be installed on the sides and it will be opened for pedestrian use. With the overhead electric transmission wires having been relocated, the next phase of work will be the demolition of the existing Covered Bridge. (Picture, right, taken June 24, see full size image...)
May 2, 2008
On Monday, May 5th, at 10 a.m., Commissioner Paiewonsky, Senator Panagiotakos, and Representative Hargraves will break ground for the Pepperell Covered Bridge project. The event will be held on the south side of the Bridge (Groton Street).
April 16, 2008
Because of a few outstanding permit issues, the installation of the temporary bridge will begin the week of 4/28/2008, starting with preparation work on each side of the river. The temporary bridge will then be “laid down” in front of the National Grid complex and pulled into place across the river.
Once installed, the utilities that now run beneath the existing bridge (gas and water) will be relocated to the new temporary bridge.
The overhead electric transmission wires will be relocated from directly over the bridge footprint to a new route that will take them about 200' down Lowell Street then across the Nashua River to reconnect to the existing lines – this is expected by late-May / early-June.
Once those two phases of work are complete, the demolition of the existing bridge will commence.
April 8, 2008
These renderings show the proposed replacement bridge. Click on either the Front Elevation (left) or the Side Elevation (right) for a larger image. Or, download a printable 8.5x11 version (534 KB).
April 7, 2008
MassHighway has now closed the Covered Bridge and will not re-open that section of Groton Street to vehicular traffic until the covered bridge replacement is complete. A detour is now in effect. The existing bridge will remain available for pedestrian use for the next few weeks until the project’s temporary utility relocation/pedestrian bridge is installed (pedestrians will be able to use this temporary bridge for the duration of the closure, which will likely be in effect through the end of 2009). Unfortunately, no specific work schedule is available for the bridge demolition and reconstruction, except that the temporary utility relocation/pedestrian bridge is currently scheduled for later in April, followed by the relocation of the overhead transmission wires, after which the demolition of the existing structure will begin.
March 31, 2008
For several months Mass Highway has been monitoring the structural capabilities of the covered bridge at the Town's request. At this time they no longer feel that it can take the traffic and will close the bridge to vehicular traffic on April 7, 2008. A detour will go into effect using detour signs that are already in place. Mass Highway has also obtained three message boards that have been placed at the most prominent locations to advice motorists that the bridge will be closed at this time. The existing bridge will remain available for pedestrian use for the next few weeks until the project’s temporary utility relocation/pedestrian bridge is installed, currently scheduled for late April 2008. Pedestrians will be able to use this temporary bridge for the duration of the closure, which is expected to be in effect through the end of 2009. The contruction of the temporary utility relocation/pedestrian bridge will be followed by the relocation of the overhead transmission wires, after which the demolition of the existing structure will begin. They’ll still be working on the approach embankments and abutments after the demolition in preparation for the construction of the actual timber covered bridge in 2009.
June 1, 2007
The Covered Bridge Replacement Project is moving forward and is now out for bids. Interested contractors can now pick up the plans and specifications for the project from the Massachusetts Highway Department for submitting a bid price. The bids are scheduled to be opened at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday August 28th and the actual work should begin this fall. The project should take about 18 months to complete. Until that time, please continue to drive slowly through the existing bridge.