The Bowker Overpass is set to undergo a series of repairs to keep it safe while state transportation officials study long-term plans for the bridge.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to replace the overpass’s deck and parapets, retrofit pin-and-hanger joints, and make steel repairs during an 18-month project slated to begin in early 2014.
“Right now what we’re doing is looking to just repair what we’ve got now,” Matt Hopkinson, the project manager for the MassDOT, told area residents at a community meeting about the project. “It’s meant only to keep the bridge in a safe condition, prevent maintenance, emergency repairs, and emergency maintenance operations at the wrong time of the night in the middle of traffic.”
Hopkinson said the project is not a full rehabilitation, but will prevent ongoing and costly maintenance projects.
“It gets to a point where you’re spending a lot of money on repairs and you just never catch up with them,” he said.
The Bowker Overpass connects Storrow Drive to Boylston Street and repairs will be performed on the two ramps and span that pass over Beacon Street, Commonwealth Avenue, and part the Muddy River. The $12 million repair project will make repairs to all four lanes.
MassDOT is considering long-terms plans that could tear down the crumbling overpass. Paul Nelson, a MassDOT project manager working on the study of long-term plans, said a complete study is expected in March.
“The bridge, frankly, will not stay up unless we do some repairs to it,” Paul Moyer, of Gill Engineering, said.
Concrete has fallen from the bridge’s deck in the past, the steel is corroded and in some parts rusted through, and pin-and-hanger joints, in general, have a history of problems, Moyer said.
A previous repair plan called for repairs to a section of Storrow Drive and work to be done at night. That span of Storrow Drive, which is in better condition than the overpass, is no longer included in the project and work will be done during the day in order to save time and money.
Work will now be done between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. with work after 6 p.m. complying with city noise regulations. The bridge will remain open during construction and will maintain two lanes inbound and one lane outbound.
The only planned detour, said Scott Carpenter, also of Gill Engineering, will be the involve the on-ramp from Storrow Drive eastbound. That ramp will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for three weeks during the project.
Hopkinson said transportation officials are aiming to finish the project in July 2015.
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