By Marjorie Nesin
---- — If you have been itching to sprint across the Good Harbor footbridge onto the sand for some volleyball — or aching to lock eyes and hands with your love at the scenic center of the bridge — you should keep your flip flops tucked away for another few days.
Though work on the Good Harbor footbridge appeared finished Friday, the bridge will remain closed until Department of Public Works employees can finish reinforcing the structure this week, with the city allowed to open the beach next weekend, weather permitting.
“We’ve still got more work to do on it,” assistant DPW Director Mark Cole said Friday afternoon. “We’re asking people to stay off it for now.”
Cole said he expects his four-person crew that spent last week working on the bridge to finish repairs by the middle of this week — in time for some fine weather days when temperatures are expected to rise into the 60s, hitting upwards of 70 degrees by the weekend.
The city had set out to finish the temporary repair by Memorial Day, and is clearly on pace to achieve that goal, Cole said. All that is left to complete on the temporary repair is replacing some brackets and railings and tweaks and adjustments here and there.
This restored bridge, costing $6,000 for supplies plus the cost of using Gloucester’s own DPW employees, should stay put through the summer, at which point city officials will begin planning a complete rebuild plan for a new, sturdier and permanent bridge.
“That’ll get us through this year,” Cole said. “I think at the end of the summer we’re going to take a look at possibly a rebuild, but this’ll definitely get us though the end of the summer.”
The previous bridge was ravaged during a pair of storms in February — the Blizzard of 2013, which hit Feb. 8-9, and a nor’easter that delivered another hit at the end of the month.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk first considered installing a replacement bridge that could have cost up to $60,000, then, through a blog post to GoodMorningGlocuester, essentially asked residents if they would accept a temporary aluminum bridge at roughly a third of the cost.
The idea of using a DPW crew to install a temporary wooden bridge grew out of that brief debate.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.