Coming soon to the Saugus River: A new railroad drawbridge

SAUGUS — Never heard of a rolling lift “Scherzer-style” bascule span?

Chances are good you will during the next two years as the state rolls out plans to build a new drawbridge to carry commuter rail trains over the Saugus River.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) list of project notices for this month includes a $7 million contractor award to construction firm Hardesty & Hanover, LLC to replace the existing drawbridge carrying trains back and forth from Boston to the North Shore.

The bridge will be 530 feet long, carrying two railroad tracks over the Saugus River, according to the MBTA.

It will replace an existing bridge that is more than a century old. The bridge project will be advertised for construction in the fall of 2020 with construction taking three years.

A new drawbridge is just the latest Saugus River bridge project. The Belden Bly highway bridge linking Lynn to Saugus has spanned a decade’s worth of work to replace the previous drawbridge built more than 100 years ago. A temporary span was erected in 2013, and a permanent replacement is planned for the crossing.

The Belden Bly work also includes water pipe replacement work and provisions for roadway bicycle lanes.

The Belden Bly’s eventual replacement will feature a similar design to the proposed commuter rail bridge. The MBTA statement said rail bridge construction will cause minimal disruption to rail service.

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