Town considers lowering roads under Horn Bridge

RYAN HUTTON/ Staff photo The Andover Fire Department's new Ladder 1 truck is just too big to fit under the Horn Bridge on Central Street. The new truck sits at 11 feet, 11 inches while the bridge's height is 11 feet, 6 inches.

The roads under the Horn Bridge, the small railroad bridge that hovers over Central Street at the intersection of Andover Street and Red Spring Road, could see changes later this year.

The bridge is well known for its low height — 11 feet, 6 inches tall — which often prohibits large trucks and town vehicles from passing through, instead causing them to get stuck underneath, creating a traffic hazard.

The most recent issue with the bridge happened when the town's new ladder truck was found to be too tall to fit underneath after its delivery July 2. The $1 million truck was sent back to the manufacturer — Pierce Manufacturing — to undergo adjustments that would make it meet the town's needs, officials said.

Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said town employees were recently out surveying the area. If necessary, he said changes would be made to Central Street and the Andover intersection, but not to the actual bridge.

"We have the ability to lower (the road) as little as one inch, and as many as four," Flanagan said.

Flanagan said the decision to do the road work will be made when the truck is returned to town this fall. He said the decision will depend on how much clearance there is between the bridge and the adjusted truck.

If the truck comes back and still does not fit under the bridge, Flanagan said the road will definitely have to be lowered. The work would be funded through the roadway budget and take two to three days.

Flanagan said adjustments to the roads have always been a consideration, but the incident with the ladder truck made town officials consider it a priority.

Director of Public Works Chris Cronin said the Horn Bridge is a low-standing bridge, and commercial trucks unfamiliar with the area are not as aware of its height. He estimated at least one truck a year gets stuck.

Cronin said Central Street was set to be surveyed anyway, as it was impacted by the Sept. 13, 2018, gas disaster and requires restoration work. All impacted roads need to be surveyed prior to repaving.

The incident with the fire truck, however, prompted the town to survey earlier.

"If it (the truck) comes back and the roads need to be lowered, we have the data we need to do that, so we know what to do," Cronin said. "That said, we likely won't need to do that."

At this time, Flanagan said there is no cost estimate of the possible work. He said any work done would be managed to mitigate traffic disruption.

This Week's Circulars