BY TOM DALTON
---- — The Kernwood Bridge, which sits in the shadow of the much larger Veterans Memorial Bridge, will get long overdue repairs this summer.
The state Department of Transportation has issued a contract for a new roadway surface on the historic swing-span bridge.
“This is good news, and the state has been responsive,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll, who received a letter this month from Transportation Secretary Richard Davey announcing the project.
The mayor had contacted Davey asking for an update on the bridge plans, which have been a concern of motorists for the past few years. The bridge was resurfaced a few years ago, but the covering had to be removed when it left the bridge with what the mayor described as a “sticky, tacky” coating.
Driscoll called it an “incomplete repair.”
Now, motorists traveling over the bridge can see exposed wooden planks.
“It’s really hard to put a paving surface on top of wood,” said Michael Collins, the commissioner of public services in Beverly.
The state plans to replace deteriorated sections of the upper layer of timber decking and then resurface the bridge with an asphalt-rubber material that can be applied only during summer months when it’s warm, according to Davey’s letter.
“The material is expected to out-perform the materials that have been used in the past for the wearing surface,” Davey wrote.
No date has been announced for the start of construction.
Although the bridge is more than a century old, state officials have identified no major structural problems.
Davey said a state committee has approved the development of a $49 million project to rehabilitate or replace the bridge, but there are no plans to move forward.
“Funding for this project has not been identified,” Davey wrote.
The Kernwood Bridge connects North Salem with the Ryal Side neighborhood in Beverly. It is a busy roadway, carrying a lot of traffic between the two cities, to Kernwood Country Club and to the Kernwood Marina in Salem, which has a recently upgraded boat ramp.
The swing-span bridge opens several times a day during the summer season for boats using the Danvers River.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.