Union-News (Springfield, MA)
Author: ELIZABETH FREY
Chesterfield, MA – Millie Chick’s new apple business went bust when the Steven’s Brook Bridge connecting her orchards to the rest of town was closed last fall.
The bridge’s closure two weeks ago for repairs has flattened her hopes for any summer customers.
“If we get five cars going by a day we’re lucky,” Chick said yesterday, noting that the Chick’s orchards sells jellies and jams and serves blintzes on weekends. “We need some monthly income.”
The Ireland Street area is normally busy during the summer with carloads of people en route to the Chesterfield Gorge and the Chesterfield Bend, two popular swimming areas.
To get there now, people must travel a 7.4-mile stretch of steep, windy roadway along Route 143 that has come to be called the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
The detour takes residents up through Worthington and back into Chesterfield, adding at least 20 minutes traveling time.
The detour has curtailed the Chicks’ social plans for the summer. “If there’s anything going on in town we just don’t consider it,” Chick said, adding they wait till the last minute to run errands in town.
Town officials acknowledge the inconvenience of the bridge’s closure and have taken steps to alleviate the hardships and protect public safety.
During this reconstruction town officials arranged for Worthington to respond to fire emergencies and for Goshen and Huntington to respond to ambulance emergencies across the bridge.
“Every day that bridge is closed is a major nuisance to a lot of people,” Selectman Donald Houghton said yesterday, explaining that not only Ireland Street residents but a large number of Worthington residents use the bridge as a shortcut to the lower portion of Route 143 down to Route 9.
The town and the bridge contractors, North American Bridge Co. of North Billerica, is pushing to have the bridge open in time for the beginning of school in September. The $125,000 repair job calls for rebuilding the bridge supports.
The bridge was closed for two months last fall for temporary repairs after an inspection found the span was badly deteriorated.