Cowles Bridge waiver for WFD imminent

WESTFIELD—According to Rep. John Velis, the city is expected to receive a waiver for several Westfield Fire Department vehicles to use Cowles Bridge this week.

According to Velis, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is expected to be giving waivers for four of five Westfield Fire Department (WFD) vehicles, along with speed restrictions, later this week via mail. The department received a request in August from MassDOT to not utilize Cowles Bridge along Routes 10 and 202 due to weight restrictions that were previously in place.

A portion of Cowles Bridge, which is along Southwick Road.

“We are grateful for the support of our local and state officials and will implement the changes as soon as we receive official notification,” WFD Chief Mary Regan said via email.

“We solved the emergency response time aspect of this,” Velis said. “The hope is that this satisfies all of the emergency response times we need to do.”

According to Velis, he and others have been making requests from MassDOT for a decision on the matter, which was initially given a timeline of three weeks when it first occurred.

“We made it abundantly clear our foremost priorities,” he said.

The Westfield News reached out to a representative from MassDOT but comments on the possible waiver were not made at the time of this story’s publishing.

The posted weight limit on Cowles Bridge.

The department was requested in a letter to no longer utilize the bridge with vehicles that exceeded the posted weight restrictions on Aug. 3. Since then, the department had come up with ways for responding to the other side of the bridge in order to avoid it, but at times had faced delays in responses.

The posted weight limits for the bridge are 12 tons for 2-axle vehicles, 16 tons for 3-axle vehicles and 29 tons for 5-axle vehicles. These limits excluded a majority of the department’s vehicles, with the exception of ambulances and rescue vehicles.

According to Regan, the waiver is expected to allow the department’s Engines 2 through 5 to utilize the bridge.

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