WESTFORD — Welcome to the Nov. 20 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.
Originally scheduled to close next summer, Beaver Brook bridge will now close on Nov. 18, seven months ahead of schedule.
“The reason for this closure is due to severe deterioration of the corrugated structural pipes and the loss of fill that the corrugated pipes are intended to support,” a press release from the Westford Department of Public Works read.
The Department of Public Works is working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to accelerate construction, which was originally scheduled for June 17, 2023.
The project will replace and upgrade the bridge and the adjoining roadway. Approximately $2 million has been earmarked for the project, which will add sidewalks, two bicycle lanes and upgraded traffic equipment.
“The Town of Westford is greatly appreciative to Congresswoman Trahan and Representative Arciero for securing our community with 2 million dollars in grant funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Westford Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman in a statement on Oct. 11. “These funds will be used to replace the town’s Beaver Brook Bridge, which will benefit both Westford residents and neighboring communities.”
The federal funding will cover 80% of the entire project, with the remainder covered through state-level contributions.
WestfordCAT reached out to the Westford Highway Department and did not receive a date as to when construction will begin.
“We do not have a formal date yet as of yet,” Director of Public Works Stephen Cronin told WestfordCAT. “DOT and the contractor is aware of the early closure so we can prepare to move the date up. We’re looking to get same of that stuff done ahead of demolition and construction.”
The bridge will close at 6 p.m. on Nov. 18 to through traffic.
VIDEO: Westford’s Veterans Day Ceremonies
Following above normal precipitation in October, the Northeast Region of Massachusetts, which includes Westford, has been upgraded to a mild drought.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Bethany Card announced the upgrade from a critical drought to a significant drought on Nov. 10. She cited a number of rainfall events that improved nearly all regions in the state.
Northeastern Massachusetts joins the Connecticut River Valley and Cape Cod as three regions in a mild drought. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard remain in a significant drought, while all other regions have no active drought.
Card notes that though Northeastern Massachusetts has been upgraded to a mild drought, northern and coastal regions continue to be more severely impacted by long-term drought conditions.
In order to officially secure nearly $8 million in grant funding from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Rainville notes that each vote must be sent to prove the town supports the project.
“I must send the certified votes for Special Town Meeting and the ballot vote to the Board of Library Commissioners,” J.V. Fletcher Library Director Ellen Rainville told WestfordCAT. “I’m finding what else I have to send before they can get the contract with the town.”
Rainville hopes by early 2024, the project will open for bids to select a contractor. By summer of 2024, Rainville hopes construction will begin on the updates facility.
“Library operations would move off site spring or early summer of 2024,” she said. “I’ve already included in the budget square footage costs for that, moving costs, storage costs. We would hope to mount the bulk of our operations at another site in Westford.”
She continued, “even if we have to keep stacks lower or further apart, we will have service desks, best sellers, a children’s rooms, our office space and maybe meeting space. It all depends on what’s available for us to use in spring of 2024.”
She noted library operations would continue as normal off-site, but that it would be over two years before staff and patrons can return to the updated J.V. Fletcher Library. A potential site has been explored, but no final decision has been made.
Flowers to Empower concludes first season, donates funding to charity
A new business — run entirely by young women — has blossomed after its first official season.
Founded in 2022, Flowers to Empower sought to promote charity and leadership on a small parcel of land adjacent to the Westford Community Garden.
Students as young as 11-years-old grow and tend to a garden of flowers, creating hundreds of bouquets for Westford residents to purchase.
In their first year in business, Flowers to Empower raised $10,162. Funding is primarily used for activities, such as bike rides and small day trips. Almeida believes these experiences provide young women the experience and skills they need to succeed.
“We hope to provide a variety of experiences and then they can all get what they need,” Almeida told WestfordCAT in September. “They are all getting something different out of it.”
The organization donated $2,000 to four local charities, including the Westford Food Pantry, Newhouse Wildlife Rescue, Westford Remembers and House Rabbit Network.
“On behalf of the Westford Food Pantry, I would like to thank the young women of Flowers to Empower for making the Westford Food Pantry one of their charities of choice for 2022,” President of the Westford Food Pantry Tim Baker said in a news release.
He continued, “their very generous donation will enable us to continue to serve our many neighbors that are in need with nutritional food and personal care items. On behalf of our many volunteers as well as our neighbors that you help to support, we thank you!”
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