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Archived: Bridge Replacement Project Puts Massachusetts in the Fast Lane

Posted on July 28, 2011

Fast. Efficient. Innovative. Transparent. Minimizing disruption to economic activity. It’s … the Massachusetts Department of Transportation?

TransportationYes it is. Beset by controversy on other fronts, MassDOT is demonstrating what good government can be in its Fast 14 I-93 Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. The project to replace 14 bridges in the Medford area, part of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s Accelerated Bridge Program, is designed to cause the fewest possible construction-related impacts on traffic, businesses, residents and tourism.

The old bridges are being replaced with modular superstructure units that are fabricated off-site, eliminating years of work in the roadway. Work is done between Friday night and Monday morning so as not to affect commuting, and four lanes of I-93 (two in each direction) are kept open for through traffic. An extensive public information effort has been mounted to make drivers aware of ramp closures, potential delays and alternative routes.

To date, 10 of the 14 bridges have been replaced, with each weekend’s work completed, and the roads reopened, ahead of schedule. All work will be completed by the end of August.

More than 80 percent of the $98.1 million project cost will be paid with federal funds, including a $1 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Highways for Life program.

The project is already a national model. In mid-July, the Federal Highway Administration held the Fast 14 Bridge Replacement Showcase, which attracted representatives from 26 state departments of transportation eager to learn how to use innovative, customer-centered and safety-driven techniques on their bridge construction projects. Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and MassDOT Secretary Jeff Mullan led a field trip to witness the rapid construction firsthand.

We believe that state highway officials are not the only people in government who have something to learn from this successful project.