By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Worcester/Shrewsbury – A year has passed since construction began on the new Kenneth F. Burns Memorial Bridge connecting Worcester and Shrewsbury via Route 9, and, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the project is still expected to be completed in summer 2015.
The project to replace the nearly 100 year-old bridge, which spans Lake Quinsigamond, began Aug. 13, 2012, with the demolition of the eastbound sidewalk. Roadway construction began in the spring and has continued throughout the summer. In the fall of 2013, all traffic will be diverted to the newly built bridge and the old bridge will then be demolished in the winter. Construction will begin on the westbound portion of the new bridge in the spring of 2014.
As of late August, roadway construction is continuing and work on the bridge itself is underway.
On North Lake Avenue, traffic has been shifted to northbound lanes creating two-way opposing traffic. Motorists are reminded that as part of this phase of work, the U-turn nearest to Belmont Street is closed and that to access South Lake Avenue, they should continue approximately 1,000 feet further north to the next U-turn lane. Access for abutters on North Lake Avenue is being maintained throughout this work.
Over the next few weeks, roadway work will include fine grading and paving on North Lake Avenue and South Road; installation of temporary traffic signals at the Belmont Street/Lake Avenue intersection; relocation of switch gear by National Grid; and continued fiber optic cable splicing by Verizon.
Work is also ongoing on the bridge itself. Over the next few weeks, work will include ongoing erection of steel arch ribs and spandrel columns for the main superstructure of the new eastbound bridge; beginning the Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) wall near Lincoln Park Towers; and backfilling of the west abutment.
In the current phase of construction, nightly lane closures have ceased, but there will continue to be periodic closures of the eastbound lanes for utility relocation work. Officials have noted that night work is an occasional requirement to ensure that all lanes on the bridge can be available to commuters during peak periods.
Shuttle bus service between Lincoln Park Towers and the White City Shopping Center for senior citizens is running. The shuttle will operate through early 2014. For more information, visit the Worcester RTA website, www.therta.com.
The replacement of the Burns Bridge is taking place under the Patrick-Murray Administration's historic Accelerated Bridge Program, an eight-year, $3 billion effort to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges throughout the commonwealth. For more information about the project, visit www.mass.gov/massdot/kenburnsbridge.