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Brace For Travel Delays As Comm Ave Bridge Construction Begins

Preparations For Comm. Ave. Bridge Project In Boston
Bridge beams and construction materials are staged and assembled for the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project at the Beacon Park Yard in the Allston neighborhood of Boston on June 26, 2018. The upcoming intensive construction operations are scheduled to take place over 15 ½ days from Thursday, July 26, through Saturday, August 11, at which time all modes of transportation will be impacted.
Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Beginning the night of Thursday, July 26, workers will begin dismantling the western half of the Commonwealth Avenue bridge in Boston as they finish the job of replacing it.

The accelerated construction is expected to be finished in two weeks — by Saturday, Aug. 11. State officials are confident they'll be able to meet the deadline.

But that doesn’t mean it will be an easy job.

Once workers bring the old bridge down, huge pre-built sections of the new span — currently stored at the Allston rail yard — will be trucked to the site, which runs over the Mass Pike near the BU bridge. Huge cranes will be used to hoist the new steel spans into place. Reinforced steel mesh will be placed on those spans, and then concrete will be poured onto them, creating the new roadway.

This is the final phase of the $110 million replacement of the bridge. Phase 1 took place last summer, on schedule, and officials hope phase 2 goes as smoothly.

But similarly to last year, there will be serious disruption to all vehicular traffic, train and T service in the area, as state highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver explains:

"This is a bridge that impacts all modes of travel. It has everything on it or passing under it,” Gulliver said. ”You have commuter rail, you have Amtrak, you have the turnpike, you have surface traffic, and then you have the green line."

But, Gulliver adds, traffic disruption could have been a lot worse.

"More traditional bridge construction would take somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 years disrupting traffic. This way it's an intensive two-week process, and once it's done, we're out of here and everything is back to full capacity," he said.

But until, then Gulliver says, if possible, travelers should avoid the area. And he advises if you need to be somewhere at a specific time, "get online, use Waze, use Google maps, Apple maps, use whatever tools you have available to you to really plan out your trip."

MassDOT is also offering detour maps and travel advice. Here are the highlights:

Commonwealth Ave Detour:

Comm Ave Detour-01.jpg
Map of Commonwealth Ave detour during the Commonwealth Ave Bridge project, July 26-Aug. 11.
Courtesy, MassDOT

Mass Pike Ramp Closures:

I-90_Detour.jpg
I-90 ramp closures during the Comm Ave Bridge construction project, July 26-Aug. 11, 2018.
Courtesy, MassDOT

BU Bridge Detour:

BU_Bridge_Cars_Detour.jpg
BU Bridge closure detour map during the Comm Ave Bridge construction project, July 26-Aug. 11, 2018.
Courtesy, MassDOT

The biggest effect may be on travel along the Mass Pike, which will be reduced to two lanes in each direction during the day, and to just one lane in each direction at night and during off peak hours.

Commonwealth Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic between Kenmore Square and Packard's Corner.

Vehicular traffic will also be banned from the BU bridge.

Green Line service will be replaced by buses and bus shuttles will be provided for those riding commuter rail or Amtrak service to Albany, NY on both weekends during the project.

There are many ramp closures and detours that will also be in effect. For more information, visit the project’s website.

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