DARTMOUTH — Dartmouth's Padanaram Bridge will be getting an upgrade, after state and local officials on Friday announced $2 million in state funding to start the design process.

MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, State Rep. Chris Markey, and town officials made the announcement outside the maritime center near the bridge on Friday morning.

Gulliver said the full bridge reconstruction project would likely cost tens of millions of dollars, although the eventual cost would depend on choices made during the design phase.

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"There's an evaluation that we do first about exactly what the bridge needs to be for the future," Gulliver explained.

He said the agency will evaluate boat traffic and the type of structure needed.

"Right now it's a swing bridge," he noted. "There may be something more appropriate to put here."

Crews will also look at the bridge's height to determine if they should raise it up "so it doesn't have to open as frequently," according to Gulliver.

"All of these different types of movable bridges have some trade-offs," he said. "And we're just going to evaluate what the best option is."

"These are very complicated structures," he added. "The designs are not something that just happens overnight."

Gulliver said MassDOT will be working with the town to choose a design firm in the next couple of months before starting the design phase in earnest.

In her speech, Polito credited Rep. Markey for his efforts in securing funding for the bridge from Beacon Hill.

"This bridge is 87 years old," Polito noted, adding with a smile, "it gets stuck sometimes, I understand."

The lieutenant governor went on to call the Padanaram Bridge "very unique".

"These kinds of structures are not only unique, but they are very costly to replace," she said. "Costly and complicated shouldn't get in the way of getting stuff done."

Polito also referred to the disruption to everyday workers and emergency crews when the bridge is out of service.

"This community knows very well what it's like to be out of an essential piece of infrastructure," she said, harkening back to the years of disruption during the reconstruction of the Padanaram causeway.

Close to $30 million was put into the causeway project.

Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes also spoke, stating that multiple improvements in recent years have helped Padanaram become what he called the "jewel of the SouthCoast."

"Since the causeway was done, it gets a lot more use," he noted. "We're excited to start making improvements at Dias Landing and tie the two together, and the bridge is a very important part of that project."

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