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Bridge of Flowers will close for repairs June 21, 2024

SHELBURNE FALLS — The Bridge of Flowers will close to the public on Friday, June 21, 2024 so work can begin on a $3,194,314 restoration and repair project.


The anticipated schedule is that work will start June 23 or shortly after and will extend through the end of the year. Northern Construction Service, LLC of Palmer, MA is the general contractor and it is anticipated the bridge will be closed just for this summer and fall season.


The project hit a snag in February when the sole bid came in over the original $2,298,000 awarded for the job by MassWorks, but Shelburne Falls Fire District commissioners are “very pleased” that the Executive Office of Economic Development (EOED) has “graciously amended” the initial MassWorks grant award, allocating an added $900,000 for the project.


“The Shelburne Falls Fire District is extremely appreciative and relieved that the EOED has granted the amendment request to complete the repairs and install the new water main on the Bridge of Flowers,” commissioners said.


When asked about the validity of the bidding process recognizing just one bid was received, Zach Chornyak from Tighe & Bond said,“the bidding process was performed in accordance with Massachusetts’ bidding laws, in a competitive environment. 


“Bidders inherently assume they are bidding competitively and, as such, propose the most aggressive pricing that they are comfortable with. In this case, only one bidder ended up submitting. As a result, several contractors were asked for the reasons why they did not submit bids. The feedback received was that due to the amount of work available, many bidders were already at their workload capacity and that less risky projects were more advantageous to pursue.


“After inquiring why several contractors did not bid, an amendment request was sent to the Massworks program explaining the bid outcome, feedback from contractors, and the need for additional funding,” Chornyak said. “We are very happy that the additional funds were awarded, which is a testament to the decision makers at Massworks recognizing the economic importance of the Bridge of Flowers.”


A pre-construction meeting was held at the fire district office May 30.  At this meeting, contractual procedural items were discussed with the contractor as were general coordination items most important to the public.   The contractor indicated the means and methods anticipated to remove and replace soil on the bridge will minimize impact to the public in that trucks will actively remove soil and later bring new soil back without needing to stockpile it locally.


It is not anticipated that more than several parking spots in town will be needed by those working on the bridge. 


Local fire and EMS representatives attended the meeting and were amenable to the daily communication plan.


All bushes and trees that can be saved have been removed for future replanting. With input from the Bridge of Flowers Committee, the iconic wisteria will be removed in such a way that it can be used to make art.


“This is great news,” says Bridge of Flowers Committee Chair Annette Szpila. "We are moving forward to have the necessary repairs done on the bridge. We are grateful to the EOED for listening to the Shelburne Falls Fire District and Tighe & Bond and approving the additional funds. Now, breathing a little easier, we can look forward to a safe bridge, complete with some upgrades and an abundance of flowers and plantings for many years to come.”

EOED has amended initial $2.3 million award with another $900,000 to pay for work


By Virginia Ray

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