River Point pedestrian bridge reopens in West Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — A bridge used to access the River Point Conservation area and trail system from the West Falmouth Crossing shopping center was reopened Tuesday after volunteers and town staff constructed a guardrail.

The bridge across the Pan Am Railroad fell into disrepair and was closed in April due to safety concerns. In particular, town staff were concerned the railing did not meet code and was unstable.

Becker Structural Engineers of Portland did a survey of the bridge at the end of March and determined that “the bridge railing is in poor condition and does not meet minimum life safety standards for pedestrians or vehicles.”

The new railing will allow pedestrian traffic to utilize the bridge. Vehicles, including tractors, will still be prohibited.

“It’s a temporary solution,” Town Manager Nathan Poore said.

Removing the bridge and abandoning the crossing has been estimated to cost just under $80,000. Removing the wooden bridge and building a replacement steel truss that could support small tractors and vehicles, but not large trucks, has been estimated at $400,000.

Poore estimated the cost of the materials for the guardrail was around $2,000.

The 41-acre River Point Conservation Area, also known as Three Rivers Farm, was donated to the town in 1995 when the plaza was constructed. Since then, volunteers from the Falmouth Conservation Corps have maintained trails and constructed bridges along the trail, connecting the area with the trail to the high school.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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Volunteers install new railings at the River Point Bridge, which connects the West Falmouth Crossing parking lot with the Three Rivers conservation area, a popular area for trail hikers and birders in Falmouth. The bridge over the Pan Am Railroad tracks was closed earlier this year for safety concerns, but was scheduled to reopen Tuesday.

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