Let me emphasize right up front- we are NOT facing an eminent bridge failure. This article is in response to a request from a citizen at the 2016 Town Meeting, that the Select Board devise a contingency plan in the event of the need to close Lawrence Street Bridge.
A quick update on Lawrence St. Bridge: The bridge is being inspected every three months for increasing signs of decay and/or damage, by an independent engineering firm. At present, we are allowing heavy loads to cross the bridge, but we will reduce load limits if necessary. The process has been started to get us on schedule for repair or replacement in early 2020s. State and /or federal bridge aid will be available for the project.
A committee has been created to develop a contingency plan which will address not just Lawrence Street Bridge, but any sudden closure of a road or bridge which leaves residents with no alternative way in or out. The committee includes members from police, fire department, EMS, the Select Board, and the Andover Elementary/Middle School. Jane Hubbard, who developed the Town’s Emergency Management Plan, is heading the committee. The committee is looking at both short term and long term response strategies.
The first two meetings have focused on hazard assessment, response strategies, and temporary bridge resources. There is a lot of information to compile before we can begin to organize it into a plan.
Residents can help by developing their own family emergency response plan. This includes having a list of all family contact information, deciding on where you could go short term if you had to leave your house, having non-perishable food, water, and other supplies set aside to get your family through several days at home. An excellent resource for developing such a plan is: nhready.gov. You will find advice on getting through any emergency at this Web site.