Eight I-90 bridges to be replaced over summer weekends

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MassDOT presents method for faster construction

Photo courtesy/MassDOT
The current deck of the I-90 bridge over Parkerville Rd in Southborough bears a patchwork of past repairs and fixes.

By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

WESTBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH – The state Department of Transportation Highway Division has plans to upgrade and replace eight I-90 bridges (east and westbound) in Westborough and Southborough over eight weekends this summer.

On April 28, 200 callers listened to a presentation by the MassDOT on how a contracting method, Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC), uses one entity for both design and construction. 

The idea is to save time, promote collaboration between engineers, MassDOT staff and contractors, and reduce the amount of inconvenience motorists will face.

The bridge project will replace the superstructures of six bridges over Flanders Road in Westborough and Parkerville Road, Woodland Road, and Cordaville Road in Southborough. 

The two bridges over Cordaville Road will be replaced entirely.

Photo courtesy/MassDOT
An artist’s rendering shows construction crews working with MassDOT’s Accelerated Bridge Construction model proposed for upcoming bridge updates.

“This (ABC) is the right way to take care of our transportation infrastructure,” said Mickey Splaine of MassDOT District 3. 

Work hours will be Fridays at 9 p.m. to Mondays at 5 a.m. 

I-90 handles 100,000 drivers per day, and Splaine said most motorists will hardly notice the work is going on.

He noted during the public hearing April 28 that I-90 will be resurfaced, and the median barrier and guardrails will be replaced along the length of the 3.3-mile project corridor.

Splaine said the bridge work is needed to address deteriorating abutment walls and bridge decks. It’s also addressing rusting and corroding steels, replacing them with structures that will last 75 years.

“It’s just time,” Splaine said. “The band aids were no longer feasible.” 

Using traditional construction methods, the work would take three to four years to complete. ABC, however, uses precast concrete elements that Splaine likened to Lego pieces, shortening construction duration.

Erik Maki, vice president of consulting and engineering firm Tetra Tech, explained that travel on this portion of I-90 will consist of two lanes in each direction separated by a zipper barrier. The speed limit will be reduced to 45 m.p.h.

Photo courtesy/MassDOT
Actual precast bridge components sit at an off site location.

Motorists will be warned well in advance of detours as the local roadway under the bridge will be closed to traffic during construction. Roads will be open to local residents but closed to regional drivers, he said.

MassDOT will use message boards and other signage to warn drivers about the changes and to try to alleviate stress.

In response to a question from Westborough resident Anthony Linn, officials noted that the ABC technique is 20 to 30 percent more expensive than the traditional method. But they feel it is worth it by saving time and resources and limiting disruption.

The project is state-funded through toll revenues. 

Each bridge costs $2 to $3 million, according to Tim Cullinan, project manager at the Framingham-based J.F. White Contracting Co.

Preparation work is underway. Bridge replacement will start in June and finish before Labor Day. No work will take place on holiday weekends and the July 4th holiday period.

Other than questions about the building materials and traffic patterns, the callers who spoke during the DOT’s presentation did not raise objections.

MassDOT officials encourage residents to visit  www.mass.gov/Acceler8Bridges or email A8@dot.state.ma.us for more information and the complete project schedule.