LYNN Witnesses heard several bangs before a temporary drawbridge spanning the Saugus River malfunctioned Monday and tilted out of its upright position days before it was scheduled to open for traffic.
“That’s off the table completely for now,” state Transportation Department spokesman Michael Verseckes said of the opening.
No one was hurt when the malfunction occurred at 9:30 a.m. and state transportation officials detoured traffic away from the bridge and the Fox Hill Bridge next to it until mid Monday afternoon when vehicles were allowed back on the Fox Hill Bridge.
“We heard ‘bang, bang, bang, bang.’ I didn’t know what it was, but I thought maybe a hinge let go. No one got hurt, that’s the important thing,” said construction worker John Davis
Stoneham Boat Center owner Tim Horgan heard the bangs inside his marine business located next to the Fox Hill Bridge, also known as a Belden Bly Bridge.
“I assumed it was a truck. I looked out the window and then my son came in and said, ‘Look at the bridge,’” said Horgan.
Verseckes said a “moveable portion” of the temporary bridge shifted out of position during a test of the single span designed to carry traffic from one side of the river to the other. He said state inspectors do not know the exact reason why malfunction occurred or what kind of impact it will have on the work schedule for the $11.8 million Fox Hill Bridge reconstruction project.
“We’ll assess the damage and come up with a constructive action plan. At this time, there is no cost estimates and no timeframe for completing the assessment and corrective action report,” Verseckes said.
The temporary bridge is intended to provide vehicle passage across the river while the Fox Hill bridge is rebuilt, but it is also designed to raise and lower to allow frequent boat traffic to transit the river.
Verseckes said a tentative schedule called for the bridge to open Saturday.
By Monday afternoon, Verseckes said workers “pinned” the temporary bridge to lock it into place so that it remains safely in one position. McCourt Construction of South Boston is the bridge project contractor, with lead responsibility for erecting and opening the temporary bridge, demolishing the Fox Hill bridge, and building a new, permanent bridge.
Horgan said workers have been erecting the temporary span since July 2010 and said work on the span has not interrupted his business or access to and from his Saugus River boatyard. But he said Monday’s mishap underscores the importance of ensuring the temporary bridge functions correctly and safely before the Fox Hill Bridge is demolished.
“Give it at least the summer season — especially if the new span is going to be dysfunctional,” he said.
Thor Jourgensen can be reached at email@example.com.