By Steven Fletcher
While the current phase of the state Department of Transportation's A. Piatt Andrew Bridge repair project will wrap up before Memorial Day, the overall repairs won't likely be complete before the end of the year, state transportation officials now say.
The Department of Transportation began rehabilitating the 50-year-old bridge that carries Route 128 between the island and West Gloucester in 2008. That was when department officials deemed it "structurally deficient" — one that needed attention, but wasn't a danger to drivers, said spokesman Michael Verseckes.
Fast forward four years and $25.7 million.
DOT crews closed off the inside lanes of the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge to traffic in late March. Those lanes have remained closed — work or no work — through most of the last month.
Crews shifted up barrels dividing the northbound lanes Tuesday morning, with the right-hand lanes now closed, Verseckes said, for more structural repairs on the steel beams beneath that section of roadway.
"It allows people to do the work and ensure that there's no movement," he said.
The DOT then shifted barrels similarly on the southbound side later in the day.
Essentially, Verseckes said, blocking the lanes sealed off the roadways around the current and changing work area.
The bridge should have all lanes open by May 24, with the project largely suspended for the season by Memorial Day weekend, said Verseckes. But there will be more to do in the fall, extending the project again beyond the expected finishing date.
So far, the DOT has budgeted $25.7 million for the project, Verseckes said. But further steel work, he said, is costing at least an additional $1.3 million.
The DOT initially expected repairs to the 57-year-old bridge to be completed last September, with the majority of leftover work involving cleaning and painting.
But as DOT crews set up platforms underneath the bridge for the first phases of work, they carried out further inspections of the structural steel beams and joints. Without the platforms, an inspection of the underside of the A. Piatt Andrew would not have been possible.
Verseckes said DOT's work, through contractor SPS New England Inc. of Salisbury, has taken longer because more work has been found that needed to be done.
"While crews were out there, we realized that there were some additional structural repairs that needed to be made," he said.
The DOT, he said, started initial work and set up the platforms, rather than undertake a lengthy inspection before the project.
So far, crews have rebuilt the roadway and bridge deck and repaired the outside sections of the steel superstructure. They're now working on inside sections of steel beams and joints and Verseckes said they'll come back after the summer season to continue that work, with painting following the repairs.
All of the work, said Verseckes, is designed to raise the bridge out of the "structurally deficient" category.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.