BARTLETT — If all goes well, two state Department of Transportation bridge projects in Jackson and Bartlett will wrap up by early to mid-October.
The Jackson bridge (No. 92/130) is on Route 16 over the Ellis River (a half-mile north of the Dana Place). Meanwhile, the Bartlett bridge (153/108) is on Route 302 over Stoney Brook (near the Mountainside at Attitash development).
The project in Jackson started July 19, approximately three weeks earlier than the Stoney Brook project, which has looked dormant of late, with only a traffic light on the site.
“I saw the letter to the editor from Dave Bartlett asking for an investigative reporter, so I decided to look into it,” Gene Chandler, chair of the Bartlett selectmen, said by phone Wednesday.
“I met with state engineers to find out what was going on. I think I can report we have some news," Chandler said.
“Part of the problem," he reported, "has been a lack of help. Just like everyone else, the private contractor has had difficulty finding help.”
Chandler said the crew on the Bartlett project also had to leave to work at other projects going on in the area at the same time.
“They got called up to Berlin when the water was lowered at the dam,” he said. “There apparently was some 'all hands on deck' work that could only be done to the dam when the water was low.”
Chandler added: “They also had a couple of other projects (work on Timmy’s Bridge on Route 16 in Glen) and helping with the work in Jackson.”
Chandler said he got a rough time frame as to when both bridge projects would be completed.
“I was told it might take only a couple of days to finish up in Jackson,” he said. “The work in Bartlett could be completed next week or the week after that. I think by early to mid-October, we’ll see all the work wrapped up.”
Collectively, the project is labeled Bartlett-Jackson 41989 by the state Department of Transportation.
According to an email July 12 from Eileen P. Meaney, chief communications officer for NHDOT, the work at both bridges involved removing the pavement, inspecting the concrete decks and making repairs as necessary.
The Jackson bridge was built in 1933 and rebuilt in 1981 and carries about 3,600 vehicles per day. The bridge is 50 feet wide (curb to curb) and 56 feet in length.
The Bartlett bridge was built in 1955, widened in 1996 and carries approximately 6,000 vehicles per day. The bridge is 35 feet wide (curb to curb) and 21 feet in length.
According to a presentation given to the Bartlett Board of Selectmen by NHDOT on Nov. 2, 2020, the Bartlett bridge deck and superstructure are in satisfactory condition, and substructure is in good condition, with minor spalling (crumbling) and efflorescence (formation of insoluble salts) seen in the concrete. Preservation activities include partial and full-depth concrete repairs and deck membrane and pavement replacement.
Chandler said two people resumed work on the Bartlett bridge Wednesday morning.
While the bridge looks to be in good shape on the surface, Chandler said the bulk of the work was underneath the bridge. “It’s the stuff you don’t see that’s the problem,” he said.
The stop light at the bridge initially drew public ire because it was very slow to change from red to green.
Bartlett School Board members Scott Grant and Nancy Kelemen said they experienced lengthy delays during week from Aug. 8-15. Some citizens attending the Aug. 13 school board meeting reported waiting in traffic for up to 15 minutes to go west on Route 302.
Now, however, “the lights seem to be working pretty well now,” said Chandler. “Before, it seemed like there was definitely a longer wait in one direction than the other.”
Managing Editor Margaret McKenzie contributed to this story.