The Morgan Sullivan Bridge carries Suffield St. and Memorial Ave. (Route 147) across the Westfield River between West Springfield and Agawam in Western Massachusetts. This project was undertaken to replace the original bridge, erected in 1946. The project was estimated to cost approximately $21 million and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2022. Funding for this bridge comes as part of the Accelerated Bridge Program, 80 percent of which is federally awarded. This lengthy reconstruction project was undertaken due to the bridge reaching the end of its 75-year life span as well as safety concerns for bike and pedestrian users, accessibility issues for people with disabilities and congestion problems during the Big E Fair. This event alone brings over 1.5 million additional road users to the area.
The full scope of the project will include bridge replacement along with various infrastructure improvements to sections of surrounding roadways. As is the case for many Massachusetts Department of Transportation bridge projects, complete closure of the bridge during construction would be too great of a hindrance to local traffic flows. MassDOT, therefore, has made continued operation of two-lane bidirectional traffic throughout the project’s duration with the exception of limited overnight closures.
The new bridge creates not only new potential for increased vehicle capacity but strives to improve multimodal accessibility to this roadway. The reconstructed bridge will include protected bike lanes, new sidewalks, designated bicycle crossings, vehicle turn lanes, traffic controls, and drainage system modifications. Two primary areas that will have greatly improved accessibility are the Doer Middle School and Agawam Town Hall. More than increasing bicycle and pedestrian safety, the project makes equitable availability to people of all abilities a priority with widened sidewalks, traffic, and pedestrian signaling improvements, as well as improvements to curb cuts and road crossings.