By LIZ BUTTON
After more than six years, change is in the air as repairs to the Central Avenue Bridge look to be on the cusp of completion, according to city officials.
City Manager Scott Pickup said ELQ Industries, the construction contractor hired by the city for the reconstruction project, is currently doing concrete work on the bridge, which has been the site of jersey barriers and roadblocks for years. The time when the immediate area will be restored to its former uncluttered state is tied-in to paving work this month on an adjoining stretch of Boston Post Road, Pickup said.
In the meantime, he said, the bridge is steadily taking shape.
“They are very aggressive on site, doing a lot of work. If you look at it, every day it looks like more and more of a bridge structure is starting to take final form,” Pickup said.
As part of the city’s annual street resurfacing program, ELQ was also contracted to pave the half mile-long stretch of Boston Post Road between Parsons Street and Library Lane. The contractor will pave the street and pave the bridge at the same time, starting the process on Aug. 19 and finishing no later than the end of the month, Pickup said.
Forthcoming side projects related to the bridge will include new sidewalks, like the one just added on the south side of Central Avenue.
“It will hopefully connect people to the crosswalk on Boston Post Road that is currently staffed,” he said.
While the contract date for the completion of the Central Avenue Bridge project‑not including paving‑is Aug. 18, Pickup said ELQ Industries is dealing with some legal claims unrelated to the city.
“They are on schedule, but there are some issues with subcontractors, but those are outside of the city’s control,” Pickup said.
Workers employed at one subcontractor, a company from Virginia, filed a claim against ELQ Industries, stating that they had not been paid in full for their work, according City Attorney Kristen Wilson.
Wilson said she doubts the conflict between the general contractor and the subcontractor will affect the construction timeline for the bridge, as long as ELQ finishes its work.
ELQ, which also recently completed the city’s Bowman Avenue sluice gate project, was awarded a $1.3 million bid for construction work in 2012. The city has estimated that the final cost of the project should come in around $2 million, although the ultimate price tag could run more.
Pickup said that the city’s actual costs for the contract came in under the company’s estimate of the bid.
The city has been trying to rebuild the Central Avenue Bridge since the 2007 floods destroyed the structure and caused $80 million in damage to the city, but delays in approvals from the state and federal agencies held up the works for more than six years due to regulatory and compliance issues.
A transfer of the project from FEMA to the state Department of Transportation threw a wrench in the approvals process.
The DOT is paying for 80 percent of the project and, when construction is completed, the city will authorize a bond to pay for the rest.
Pickup said workers are currently removing heavier equipment from the project site.
Going forward, the City Council must decide whether to remove the nearby Lowenstein Bridge. If the Lowenstein Bridge is removed, ELQ would also do this work, Pickup said.