The intersection will be closed from 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, until 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. At that time the intersection will be reopened for a two hour window to accomodate the runners participating in the Maple Leaf Half Marathon as the route runs through the intersection. When the intersection is closed again at 10 a.m.
"I believe at this point it's the best way to do the bridge and to get it done the quickest way possible," said Manchester Town Manager John O'Keefe. A marble arch that supports the roadway on the Main Street section of the present intersection, which was put in place almost exactly 100 years ago, has been revealed to have significant stress fractures, and the safest way of replacing the existing roadway with the new intersection was to shut it down completely, engineers working on the project concluded.
Jason Waysville, resident engineer with Boswell Engineering, said part of the reason for the accelerated schedule was due to state permits and
"Obviously if it drags out it becomes more of an issue for the business owners and the people of Manchester if we're out there next year working on it," Waysville said. "Doing the accelerated schedule, it's 10 days of inconvenience now, but will in the long run, save a lot of time on the back end." Boswell continued to said the bridge had a rating of a three at the moment based on the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) evaluation - a visual inspection evaluation. However, if they waited and the rating dropped to a two, Boswell said not only would they have to close the bridge, but it would then be town's responsibility to pay for the necessary repairs.
W.M. Schultz Construction - the contractor hired to complete the Roundabout project - will be working around the clock during the two-week period to get the road re-opened to two-way traffic as soon as possible.
While it is estimated that work will take about 10 days to finish, Project Manager Kevin Ture said at the special select board meeting on Monday evening that if everything went perfectly the work would not take that long to complete.
News that the intersection would have to be closed displeased both town officials and some members of the business community alike.
"I'm sure we relayed back to everybody that the board is a little more than upset that this late in the game we'd run into this kind of snag," said select board chairman Ivan Beattie. "We knew the bridge was there, we knew it had to be cut and we sold the idea to the community based on the fact that we were going to be able to maintain two way traffic through there. Obviously we're in the situation we're in [and] we have to deal with it, but [we're] a little more than perturbed that it got to this point this late in the game."
Beattie continued to say that he would be "really upset" if the work was not completed within the alotted time frame.
When contacted, co-owner of Vanderbilt Equities, Ben Hauben, declined comment on his initial reaction to the announcement. In the past, Hauben has expressed his opinion that this was not the right time for the project to be performed and that it would adversly impact neighboring businesses - some of whom are his tenants.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Hauben said he stood by his previous statements and said the project was "impacting the whole town" and "affecting everyone."
Not all business owners felt the same way though. Ron Houser, co-owner of The Mountain Goat, said that their business has had "a pretty decent summer" and that the project has not affected them that much during their operating hours.
Even with the recent development, Houser's outlook was positive.
"Am I concerned? Yes," Houser said about the impact that closing the intersection might have on his business. "But if it means that we are going to get this project mostly done this year and that means less time and less big equipment next year, I say lets get it done."
One advantage of having to close the intersection is that the crews will be able to complete the button roundabout at the intersection of Main and Bonnet streets sooner than anticipated.
When the intersection is shut down, traffic will be diverted around the intersection by allowing two-way traffic on Cottage Street and Wymans Lane. Center Hill and Union Street in Manchester Village will also be used to divert traffic, and in particular truck traffic, while the work is being done in the intersection.