September 20th, 2013
CHICOPEE, Mass. (wggb) – It’s a project that’s been causing headaches since 2012. Connecting Chicopee to Holyoke, the Willimansett Bridge construction was scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day next year. But a recent set back has the completion date completely up in the air.
The renovations at the bridge are at a standstill. The contractor, a company based in Denmark, has gone bankrupt which means the sub-contractors aren’t being paid and the project is on hiatus.
It’s a setback that even has Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette frustrated. “To have finally gotten the Willimansette Bridge back on track and be able to tell people that there’s an end in sight with the opening by Memorial Day of next spring. To find this out now it’s kind of a kick in the teeth,” he said.
Now the project is at the mercy of the insurance company, AIG. But the state and Mayor Bissonnette aren’t standing idly by.
“We’re going to push very hard to have the insurer step up, honor it’s bond, have the state insist on getting some contractors that are familiar with this project, complete the work and lets get back on a timeline. ” explained Mayor Bissonnette.
A timeline that has many concerned, but none more so than the businesses on either side of the bridge that remain open. One of those businesses is Al’s Diner in Chicopee, owner Gus has his own prediction on when the bridge will be done. “By 2016, that’s my prediction,” he said.
Even though Chicopee Street is open for the people who want to visit the businesses here, workers from those businesses say that the sign saying so is too small. They say that even if the bridge opened tomorrow, it wouldn’t be soon enough.
Mayor Bissonnette has a message for those business owners. “Patience is a virtue, in this particular thing its a nuisance to wait but again we’re trying to get them back to adhere to the original timeline if they can shorten it up even the better.”
But until the bridge is done, at least Gus has a healthy outlook about it,”can’t be frustrated. Can’t change it, there’s nothing you can do about it so there’s no reason to get frustrated.”
According to Mayor Bissonnette, they are encouraging AIG to hire the same subcontractors to complete the bridge which is about halfway done. However having the project go to the insurance company may delay it’s completion even more.