Work to start on new Burns Bridge this fall
By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Region – It is almost 100 years old, but the Kenneth F. Burns Bridge will not be celebrating a centennial birthday. Instead, the bridge, which spans Lake Quinsigamond and connects Shrewsbury and Worcester via Route 9, will be replaced by a new bridge nearly double the size. That project, officials said at a forum held at Worcester Technical High School July 11, will start this fall.
Evan McCormick, a project manager for the Middlesex Corporation, the company overseeing the project’s design, said that the bridge is being replaced as part of the Patrick-Murray administration’s Accelerated Bridge Program. The project will be overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and is estimated to cost $89 million.
McCormick assured those at the forum that even though the current bridge needs to be replaced, it is safe to drive on for the foreseeable future.
“It is inspected every six months,” he added.
The existing bridge has two lanes in each direction; the new bridge will have three lanes in each direction, widened shoulders and sidewalks, additional bicycle lanes, and scenic overlooks where pedestrians may sit and view the lake and any associated activities, such as regattas. The overlooks will have decorative lighting and panels detailing historic facts about the bridge and the lake.
The new bridge will actually be two bridges, McCormick said, separated by a small gap. The construction on the eastbound portion will start this fall, when piles will be driven and piers and abutments built in the water next to the existing bridge. The actual construction of the eastbound portion will begin in the spring and continue throughout the summer of 2013. In the fall of 2013, all traffic will be diverted to the newly built bridge; the old bridge will be demolished in the winter. Construction will commence on the westbound portion in the spring of 2014; anticipated to finish in spring 2015. If all goes according to plan, the completed bridge, eastbound and westbound, should be completed by the summer of 2015.
Roads near the bridge will also have improvements made, McCormick said, so that road lanes match up with bridge lanes.
A big improvement, McCormick said, is that the new bridge will have treatment basins on the banks to collect storm water. Currently there are no such filters in place; storm water – and whatever is on the surface such as oil, chemicals and debris – run off into the lake.
The existing bridge is a reinforced concrete deck arch-type, with six arch spans. The new bridge will be a five-span steel-deck arch structure. McCormick said the new spans will allow for more light underneath the bridge.
McCormick noted that the construction would have an impact on the bridge’s abutters.
“Some noise is inevitable,” he said, “in particular when the bridge needed to be taken down.”
“But no businesses will need to be shut down,” he added. “And most work will be staged from the water.”
The work will have an impact on boaters as well, he noted. He said that, when possible, equipment in the water would be moved to allow for boaters on the lake to move about freely. But there would be times, he added, when that would be impossible to do.
McCormick noted that the bridge is not only important to commuters but also to the many people who live in homes and apartment complexes on the Worcester side but cross the bridge frequently to shop or go to restaurants in Shrewsbury. MassDOT will work to ensure that there would continue to be pedestrian access at all times. The agency will also be working with local officials and business groups in an effort to keep all informed, he said.
“We are committed to doing this correctly,” he added.
A website, www.mass.gov/massdot/kenburnsbridge, has been set up for those interested in following the progress and those who want to offer their comments about the project.
Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=24444