City gets state money to help with bridge traffic, flooding

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BEVERLY — The city is planning to add an extra patrol car to help with traffic problems caused by the shutdown of the Hall-Whitaker Bridge.

The patrol car will be funded in part by a $100,000 earmark that was included in economic development legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker last month.

Mayor Mike Cahill told the City Council last week that most of the money will underwrite the cost of putting a third patrol car on the streets, allowing more time for a police officer to keep an eye on traffic in Ryal Side.

“Not all of the officer’s time would be spent in Ryal Side,” Cahill said.

The permanent closure of the Hall-Whitaker Bridge in June has forced cars to cut through the neighborhoods and side streets off Bridge Street, leading to safety concerns by residents.

Ward 1 Councilor Todd Rotondo, who represents Ryal Side, said the city has taken several steps to mitigate the traffic problems, including the installation of a new crosswalk, a do-not-enter sign during school hours, double yellow lines on Kernwood Heights, and data boxes to track speeding vehicles.

Rotondo said those measures have improved the situation, but a stronger police presence would be a big help.

“That’s what people are really looking for,” he said. “They’re looking for more police there to be a presence.”

“It’s gotten better,” Rotondo added. “People are being pulled over. But the only real solution is for the bridge to be opened.”

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation permanently closed the Hall-Whitaker Bridge in June due to structural deficiencies. State officials have said it could take at least 13 years to build both a new Hall-Whitaker Bridge and a new Kernwood Bridge, which is also in Ryal Side and needs to be replaced. Officials are considering first building a temporary Hall-Whitaker Bridge, which they said would open in 2026.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, earlier this month called that timeline “absurd” and said he would push state and federal agencies to speed up the process.

As part of the same state legislation, the city is also scheduled to receive $300,000 to help alleviate flooding in the Jordan Street neighborhood near Beverly High School. Cahill told the City Council that the city still needs to determine exactly how that money will be used toward that goal.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.



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