By Dan Murphy
Before a group of neighbors at the Harvard Club of Boston on Monday, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials outlined plans for the $7 million replacement of the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge over Commonwealth Avenue.
“The point of the project is to replace a structurally deficient bridge that is crumbling,” said Jim Kersten, MassDOT’s legislative liaison, adding that the state agency is using federal funds to replace the city-owned crossing, also known as the Tommy Leonard Bridge. “A partnership between the city and state has happened since Day One of this project,” he said.
Joe Tierney, a project consultant from the Canadian architectural, engineering and design firm Stantec, said while conventional construction would take three years and entail many street closures and regular night work, MassDOT is instead opting for a “rapid bridge replacement project.” For this approach, workers would be on hand 24 hours a day over a four-day weekend to install a pre-fabricated bridge.
MassDOT previously scheduled this phase of the project for mid to late July, but Kersten said the timeframe is still undetermined as the state agency attempts to coordinate the project schedule with other development in the area.
Prior to this work, westbound traffic on the Commonwealth Avenue bypass will be closed for five months and diverted to surface roadways, typically from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, to allow for reconstruction of the Commonwealth Avenue underpass.
A final phase of the project will follow the bridge replacement and last approximately four months to make repairs to surface roadways and the concrete walls of the underpass.
Anticipating the project’s potential noise impact, Kersten cautioned neighbors, “This type of construction is very intrusive for a short period of time.”
MassDOT will hold another public meeting on the project before major construction gets underway, Kersten said.