Wareham's Elm Street bridge construction to start in 2019

By Matthew Bernat | Jun 06, 2018
Courtesy of: Nitsch Engineering The Elm Street bridge, closed since 2014, is set to re-open early next year.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2019 on a long-closed bridge on Elm Street, near a historic property town officials have identified as a promising economic opportunity.

Closed in 2014 due to structural issues, the two-lane bridge connects Main Street and Cranberry Highway near the 7.2-acre Tremont Nail Factory District.

Starting in 1819, the site was home to the Tremont Nail Company. For more than 100 years, cut nails and other products were manufactured in the complex before the company moved to Mansfield.

In 2004, the Town of Wareham bought the site using Community Preservation Act funds. The act is a Massachusetts law that allows participating cities and towns to adopt a real estate tax surcharge, supplemented by state matching funds in order to fund community preservation.

Until recently, the property has languished, attracting few tenants and drawing ire from residents tired of town funds being used to maintain the eight buildings on the property.

Last year, efforts to revitalize the property ramped up as plans took shape to transform the property into a vibrant destination, complete with shops and event space.

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said the construction would benefit efforts to revamp the site.

“This will allow the town to start fixing a major concern that could have prevented vital economic development,” said Sullivan.

John Michalak, a project manager with the Worcester-based Nitsch Engineering, said the bridge replacement is being designed now. Plans moved forward in 2017 after the town received a $500,000 grant from the state, part of the Small Bridge Program. Under the program, communities may receive up to $500,000 in grant money for town-owned bridges that are between 10 and 20 feet long. Bridges of that length aren’t eligible for federal funds. Wareham was one of 36 cities and towns across Massachusetts that received the grant on the first application.

The two-lane bridge will be replaced in one phase, lasting approximately four weeks once construction starts, said John Michalak, a project engineer with Worcester-based Nitsch Engineering.

Construction on the 23-foot bridge is set to start in winter 2019. Final designs will be submitted to the state in August of this year. A bid will be accepted in January 2019. In total, replacing the bridge will cost an estimated $1.2 million.

Plans call for moving utility lines from beneath the bridge to its side, reducing the threat of damage during floods. Matthew Styckiewicz, a structural engineer with Nitsch Engineering, said there is a second bridge nearby, which will also be replaced. Town officials are waiting to hear if a grant will be awarded for that work as well. They are optimistic the state is going to provide the grant.

“It wouldn’t make sense for them to fund one, but not the other,” said Michalak.

Comments (8)
Posted by: bob | Jun 07, 2018 07:49

So who picks up the rest of the cost..the town or the cranberry growers...

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 07, 2018 10:40


Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jun 07, 2018 11:46

So happy to see a major stumbling block in revitalization of the area being addressed.


Matthew Bernat - please update story with information regarding how the remaining estimated $700,000 in costs will be funded.

Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Jun 08, 2018 07:23

This whole plan/project needs to be revisited. Millions are /have been spent on a bunch of tinder dry empty buildings ,property and a road that just sit in need of constant upkeep. Now the road which no longer serves a purpose is being "repaired" The spillway is important and needed. WHAT is the stated PLAN (not dreams or wishes).

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 08, 2018 09:28

Monkey- repairing the road before redevelopment seems to make the most sense.  Then again, redevelopment before repairing the road can be debated.  Guess it's a chicken or egg thing.  But that's not the big issue driving the steps.  Below that road is more than a spillway.  Beneath lies a failing dam with herring run and spillway.  The road needs to come up to fix it.  Makes sense to replace the road afterwards.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Jun 08, 2018 09:54

Monkey, there is a day care on that street and also several home behind it. I would bet those people don't think that the road no longer serves a purpose.


Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 08, 2018 14:50

The road is better off being closed for the future project there. The only purpose the road should serve is access to the new project a spot to take kids fishing on the pond or looking at herring. Opening it up again will only have texting pot smoking millennials speeding thru the area.

Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Jun 09, 2018 07:24

Lots of thoughts and considerations. I would recommend NOT spending another dime until The Treamont Nail property issue is addressed. The dam/spillway is a non issue as a stand alone.The quiz question of the day: MUST the Elm St. Bridge be repaired/ rebuilt to accommodate vehicle traffic which is very expensive or would a nice pedestrian foot bridge work just as well ? The road has been closed for so long that nearly everyone has gotten used to going around anyway.


If you wish to comment, please login.