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MassDOT Announces Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Summer Construction Dates

BOSTON (CBS) -- Boston commuters will have to prepare for significant traffic delays by the Commonwealth Avenue bridge again this summer.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced Monday that from July 26 to August 11, the bridge and the surrounding area will but under construction as the west side of the bridge is demolished and replaced. Construction will last 15 and a half days.

A dry-run will likely occur during the first weekend of June.

Commuter Rail, T, and bus riders in the Boston University/Saint Paul Street neighborhood will be impacted, along with Mass Pike drivers.

"Similar to last year, there will be very major traffic impacts. This a project that affects virtually all modes of travel in this particular region. In addition to the turnpike, the travel over the bridge will be impacted, and whether you're riding a bike, walking, driving a car, taking the T, what have you, your travel will be impacted if you go through this area," said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.

"Avoid unnecessary travel if possible. If you don't have to be here, you should be someplace else, it is going to be a very very difficult three weeks as we go through this construction process. Plan ahead, now is a great time to start planning what your vacation is going to look like this summer."

Comm. Ave and the BU Bridge will be closed to drivers, and the MBTA's CT2 and route 47 buses will be detoured for the entire 15 and a half days. The MBTA's Green Line B-Branch will have a shuttle bus between Babcock and Blandford stations for 15 days. Traffic on the Mass Pike will be shifted to two lanes each side during peak-hours for 9 and a half days. The Worcester Line of the Commuter Rail and Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited Line will feature bus diversions for the two weekends of construction.

Those using the Green Line B-Branch should give themselves an extra 10 minutes, and those using the effected bus routes should give themselves an extra 15 minutes, according to Deputy General Manager of the MBTA Jeff Gonneville.

Last summer as construction was done on the eastbound side, MassDOT predicted drivers could sit through 90-minute delays on the Mass Pike. Enough people heeded the warnings, making traffic delays bad, but not as bad as expected.

"This year it is a little bit of a different project. But one of the biggest benefits from last year, for us on the construction side, was that the public really took our advice and made a lot of smart travel decisions approaching the date of construction and it made that whole construction project real manageable," said Gulliver.

At the project's peak, over 200 workers utilizing three cranes are expected to be working around the clock.  Gulliver said the westbound side of the bridge will be constructed with 45 steel beams and 214 pre-fabricated concrete deck panels.

According to MassDOT, the entire bridge replacement project costs $110 million.

The Comm. Ave bridge constructed in 1965 and is now structurally deficient. The new bridge is expected to last for 75 years, and will be safer, have new Green Line tracks and room for bikes and pedestrians.

"We've spent a lot of time really trying to figure out what the construction window should be. Our team has been working for the last several months with a contractor, with major stakeholders in the area including B.U., as well as looking at the major event venues such as what's going on with Fenway Park, the Garden, all other major events that are around the city and that's how we came up with this particular window," said Gulliver, noting that the construction happens after the Fourth of July and before Labor Day.

For more information, visit the MassDOT website.

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