Officials discuss future of Willimansett bridge project - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Officials discuss future of Willimansett bridge project

Work on the Willimansett bridge project stopped last Monday after the general contractor Pihl Inc. declared bankruptcy.

The project is only around 50 percent complete and now officials in Chicopee and Holyoke are working with the state in an effort to get the project up and running as quickly as possible.

"Our goal is to get them back to work as quickly as possible knowing that the insurance company that issued the performance bond guaranteeing the work would be completed now has to step in and make payment," said Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette.

"I'm hoping to hopefully re-contact MassDOT tomorrow to get an update," said State Rep. Aaron Vega.

The $19.2 million project began in August of 2011. Prior to this setback it was expected to be completed in May of next year.

Bissonnette says he wants to extend the work week to 60 hours instead of 40 and to keep the same workers on the job so the project can get back on schedule.

"I am concerned about the businesses down in Willimansett that have waited a long time. They were happy with the good news that it would be open by Memorial Day and now we've got this setback," said Bissonnette.

Vega says his office has received multiple calls from area businesses negatively impacted by the project.

"Just over here at C-Town they're losing over $20,000 a month," said Vega.

That's why he says he's in the process of working on a bill that would help with this type of situation in the future.

"We're also working on a bill that I filed back in January that would allow municipalities to give a tax break when projects like this happen," said Vega.

In a statement to CBS 3 Sara Lavoie the Press Secretary at MassDOT released this statement on the project: "MassDOT is stopping all payments to Pihl and will be working through the legal and financial processes that are in place to ensure the outstanding work is completed. It is unknown at this time when work will resume."

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