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Replacement plans for the Saugus Belden Bly drawbridge are nearing completion

The Belden Bly Bridge. (Owen O'Rourke/file photo)

SAUGUS — Crews finished repairs to the Belden Bly Bridge after a malfunction caused it to be stuck open on Sunday.

The bridge remained impassable until Tuesday night, when the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced it would remain down during the day and lifted at night for maintenance and repairs. The problem, according to MassDOT spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard, was that one of the steel ropes used to operate the drawbridge malfunctioned. Detour routes were put in place to reroute traffic.

MassDOT crews successfully installed two new steel ropes on the drawbridge on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and operational testing was completed. It is now able to carry motor vehicle traffic and open for marine traffic.

Also known as the Fox Hill Bridge, the drawbridge crosses the Saugus River between Saugus and Lynn.

A channel restriction that was put in place for boaters during the day was lifted Thursday morning.

MassDOT has conducted maintenance on this bridge on a regular basis and has plans to replace the drawbridge. The design is nearing completion and the project is expected to be advertised for construction bids in early 2019.

According to Mass.gov, the project is expected to be funded through the 2019 Transportation Improvement Program for the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization is estimated to cost $81.3 million.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2019.

At a 2016 hearing on the proposed project, project manager Paul King said construction was expected to last about three-and-a-half years.

It was said to include constructing the replacement for the previously removed permanent drawbridge. Portions of Route 107 at each bridge approach and at the Ballard Street intersection will be reconstructed.

A temporary drawbridge was constructed beside the original 1913 Belden Bly Bridge to allow one lane of traffic to run in each direction between Western Avenue in Lynn and Route 107 in Saugus while it was demolished.

The proposal was for the temporary bridge, which was completed in 2013, to be removed. The existing water main would be replaced along the approaches and beneath the river. Sidewalks would be added to both sides of Route 107, in addition to a bicycle lane.

The marine channel would be widened from 40 feet to 50 feet and the bridge would be elevated one additional foot.

Also in the proposal was the addition of vehicle turning lanes at the intersection of Ballard Street and Route 107. The intersection delay is expected to be reduced by more than 50 percent during peak morning and evening hours.

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