Getting the Mill Road Bridge Reopening Story

The Mill Road Bridge - note the left side settling especially on the rail.

The Mill Road Bridge - note the left side settling especially on the rail.

Over a month ago I was mislead into believing that the Mill Road Bridge in Ipswich was going to reopen very shortly.  It didn’t. 

Less than two week ago, the same misleader said that the bridge would open soon probably in May.  It won’t.

How do I know?  I decided that the reopening of that bridge would make for a good story and volunteered to go after it.

I found out from a rep at MassHighway and the Ipswich DPW director that the bridge will be open by the middle of June.

I learned, along the way, that government-related stories don’t fall together as the usual stories I attempt do. 

I drove over to the Mill Road Bridge site on Thursday (March 26th) thinking that I would either arrange for an interview on a future date or get the information I needed right there from the boss at the site.  Silly boy!

No one was there even though the weather was pleasant.  Not knowing the company involved I next sought out the Ipswich DPW to find out if they knew anything.  That got me the director’s phone number but he was gone for the day.

So much for Thursday.  On Friday, I talked to the director’s secretary (I had her kids in school) and learned of the best time to call him – Monday.  I also got the name of the company that was doing the work and called them in Salisbury.  The person I wanted was at a meeting in Boston but would be back later and would call me.  I also learned that MassHighway was the overseer and after a call learned who the public relations guy was for them and that I should call on Monday.

Later on the company guy did call.  I started asking him questions about how the work was going and he said that he couldn’t give me anything because MassHighway didn’t want him too.  That was a bit of a shocker to me!

Today (Monday) I chatted with some wonderful secretaries at the Ipswich DPW and MassHighway in the morning.  In one case they said they would alert the person I wanted that I had called.  In the other case I ended up on his answering machine.  The thought crossed my mind at this point that maybe this story wasn’t meant to be.

This afternoon both people got back to me and confirmed the mid-June date. 

I came away realizing that in this situation the people who had the specific information I wanted were prevented from giving me the information and asked to defer me to people who only had general information.  Not the sort of stuff an inquisitive writer would want.

I took a couple of pictures at the work site including the one on this blog.  You can see how the bridge surface slopes left.  How many more vehicles could have made it over before a collapse occurred back in May of 2006 when the days of rain happened? 

The thing to remember now is that everything below the road is now fully repaired even though on the surface you could think otherwise.

( I have written a separate article on this bridge for The Town Common.  When it appears there on April 8th I will post it on this blog. )

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