Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions were asked of the project team often during the early stages of the project.
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Why are the entire steel and concrete superstructures being replaced rather than just the concrete decks?
While it was a portion of the concrete deck that failed this summer, the steel underpinning the decks is nearing the end of its functional life. The steel needs repairs and needs to be deleaded and repainted, which are expensive processes. It is more economical and efficient to replace the concrete decks and steel at the same time than it is to replace the decks now and the steel later. Replacing both at the same time also dramatically reduces the amount of time that the road will be under construction.
Are the I-93 bridges safe?
Yes. All bridges in Massachusetts that are open to traffic are safe. MassDOT thoroughly inspects all of its bridges at regular intervals.
Why isn’t MassDOT using conventional construction methods?
MassDOT is committed to providing safe and durable replacement bridges with the least possible construction-related impacts such as congestion and impacts on tourism and the economy. By building the bridges in sections, in locations away from the roadways, MassDOT is greatly reducing the duration of on-site construction. To avoid impacting week day rush-hour traffic, MassDOT will erect the replacement superstructures by installing these pieces over summer weekends. To minimize the level of impact to local communities, MassDOT is sequencing the work so that only one local street is impacted each weekend. MassDOT is working with emergency responders to ensure that emergency services continue throughout the project without interruption.
Why not replace smaller sections of the superstructure during the week in overnight hours?
MassDOT has determined that doing the work during weekends will result in the least amount of impact and the least amount of risk. By using a weekend schedule, MassDOT will be able to replace an entire superstructure (in one “bound” or side of the highway median) at a time. To do work during the week in overnight hours, MassDOT would have to replace small sections each night. To replace small sections, MassDOT would have to cut into the decks and leave some of the old deck open for traffic during the week. For safety reasons, MassDOT does not want to have partial sections of the old bridges open to traffic.
Why not spread out the construction so that only a few bridge replacements are done each summer for the next few years? Wouldn’t this be easier for road users and communities?
Due to the advanced level of deterioration, the work needs to begin and be completed as rapidly as possible. MassDOT will need twelve weekends to replace all of the structures. If the work is not done soon, then additional, unscheduled emergency repairs will be needed, causing considerable traffic congestion.
When will the work take place?
Utility relocation work has already begun in preparation of bridge work. Repairs to the foundations and piers will begin during the winter/spring of 2011. The superstructure replacement, which will require lane reductions and traffic crossover on I-93, will occur on weekends between 6/1/2011 and 8/30/2011. The weekend work will begin after rush hour on Fridays. I-93 will be fully open to traffic by 5:00 AM on Monday mornings. No work will occur on Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend, or Labor Day weekend.
Will weather affect the construction?
High winds would present the biggest challenge to construction. The cranes that will lift the modular pieces into position can’t operate safely when winds reach more than 22 miles per hour. Contractors can typically work around rain, tenting or covering segments of the work site. The schedule includes additional weekends if weather interferes with progress.