WESTBOROUGH – A state grant will send $11,161 to the town of Westborough to help replace what officials have described as an “unsafe” bridge in the town’s Bowman Conservation Area.
The money comes through the state MassTrails program, helping offset a bill that voters approved earlier this year at Town Meeting.
“The bridge is situated in the beautiful Bowman Conservation Area and will provide improved pedestrian walkability for local residents and visitors,” State Sen. Jamie Eldridge said in a joint press release with legislative colleagues this week.
“I am grateful for this funding which will ensure that our residents can continue to safely enjoy and traverse the Bowman Conservation Area,” State Rep. Danielle Gregoire added.
The bridge project will replace a 40-year old structure spanning a tributary to Sandra Pond.
The replaced bridge will be five feet wide, reaching 24 feet across the tributary, and have railings.
Once complete, this work will also add an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant path leading up to the similarly ADA-compliant bridge.
State Rep. Hannah Kane joined her legislative colleagues in touting this project and its funding this week, saying that she was “thrilled” to see MassTrails dollars going to the project.
“This reconstruction will allow Westborough residents and visitors to enjoy this beautiful conservation area for many years to come,” Kane said.
Town Meeting approved funding for bridge
The Bowman Conservation area already features a trail network, utilizing three bridges along those trails.
This bridge in question has been repaired before.
It was then a topic of discussion before and during Town Meeting earlier this year as town officials sought money to replace it.
“It just has met its life expectancy,” Conservation Director Sheri Widdiss told the Select Board on Feb. 8. “…It’s really unsafe at this point.”
A Town Meeting article in March transferred $14,000 from free cash to fund the project, though officials noted their pending MassTrails application at the time.
Grant money, they said, would slash the $14,000 bill to roughly $3,000 in town contributions.
The bridge will be built using a kit, which is due to arrive in town in the coming weeks. The bridge will then need to be installed.