By Jonathan L'Ecuyer
The jersey barriers are coming back to the northbound side of the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge.
The right travel lane of the northbound section of Route 128 crossing the bridge will be permanently closed for the next several weeks to allow construction crews to do work to prepare for painting the main arch span, Department of Transportation resident engineer Chuck Sabella stated in an e-mail sent Wednesday to Gloucester and Rockport officials.
Sabella said the closure will affect a short segment of the northbound lane of Route 128 approaching the bridge, then shut down approximately two-thirds of the length of the bridge itself before reopening to two travel lanes leading to Grant Circle.
"This type of lane closure is authorized under the contract during off-season months and was successfully used during the earlier phases of the (bridge rehabilitation) project when the bridge deck and sidewalk were replaced," Sabella said. "We anticipate implementing the closure late this week or early next week. All traffic lanes will be restored to full operation prior to Memorial Day weekend."
The closure will provide an area for the equipment that is used during the cleaning and paint removal phase.
Locating the equipment on the bridge itself, as opposed to areas off the bridge, "will reduce the potential for environmental releases and will also allow the work to be completed more quickly," he said.
A right lane closure has greeted motorists entering Gloucester via the bridge all week; however, only traditional traffic cones have been used to indicate the closure, which has only been in effect during daytime work hours.
Repair of the structural steel on the 60-year-old bridge was the primary reason for the rehabilitation project, which started three years ago.
The project has included replacing decaying girders with 22,000 pounds of structural steel and digging up and repaving all four travel lanes.
Since the initial $8.5 million cost estimate, the project has more than tripled in price. The now $25.8 million project is expected to be completed this spring.
Jonathan L'Ecuyer can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451 or email@example.com.