AASHTO Journal, 16 August 2013
Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard Davey was joined by Gov. Deval Patrick and other federal, state, and local officials last week to begin work on a major bridge project designed to increase capacity on an I-95 bridge while also providing bike and pedestrian access.
Officials official broke ground last Thursday, Aug. 8, on the Whittier Bridge over the Merrimack River, a project that will replace the existing 57-year-old bridge with a new eight-lane structure that will include bike and pedestrian lanes to encourage multi-modal use. MassDOT officials estimate the project will create or sustain about 400 construction jobs and an additional 1,000 indirect jobs.
The new bridge is one of the five “mega” projects in the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program, an effort to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges across Massachusetts while providing new jobs for citizens. Since the program’s inception in 2008, the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state has dropped 19 percent (from 543 to 440).
“The Governor’s Accelerated Bridge Program along with our other road and bridge investments have begun to reverse the decline in our transportation assets,” Davey said in a statement. “At the same time, the Whittier design-build contract is the latest example of our focus on completing more projects on a streamlined and ambitious schedule.”
Patrick seconded Davey’s thoughts on the project.
“The Whittier Bridge replacement shows what we can accomplish when we invest in our transportation infrastructure,” Patrick said. “Through the Accelerated Bridge Program, we are building for the next generation while creating economic opportunity and hundreds of jobs in the process.”
The Whittier Bridge project also includes the replacement or repair of four adjacent bridges along I-95 in Amesbury and Newburyport as well. While preliminary work is underway on the project, construction is slated to begin early this fall. MassDOT officials expect the project to be completed in late 2016.