Bridge inspections to be done overnight

ALLEGRA BOVERMAN/Staff file photo/A project to inspect the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge will be "conducted during overnight hours moving forward," and should wrap up next week, a state Department of Transportation spokesman said.

The suspension of the traffic-tangling inspection work and lane closures on the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge lasted less than 24 hours.

The inspection work resumed Wednesday morning, despite being cut short Tuesday because "traffic conditions" on the bridge spawned backups of a mile or more Monday and Tuesday.

But the project will be "conducted during overnight hours moving forward," said Patrick Marvin, a Department of Transportation spokesman. The inspections will carry on for much of next week.

The initial schedule for the inspections called for work on the northbound side of the bridge and roadway to continue through Thursday, then shift to the northbound side on Friday and continue there Wednesday and Thursday, July 17 and 18.

Wednesday, however, Marvin said that precise schedule is in a state of flux as crews switch to working in the overnight hours rather than tying up the bridge's traffic during the day.

"The schedule will depend on the progress of operations," he said in an email to the Times, "but I understand that inspection operations will occur during overnight hours."

Work on the northbound side of the bridge, which closed down traffic to a single lane, had been suspended Tuesday afternoon when traffic backed up to exits 13 and 14, for Concord Street and Essex Avenue, respectively. The shift to an overnight schedule should especially ease gridlock concerns when the project shifts to the southbound lane, which would back up traffic toward and into Grant Circle.

Marvin said that the work is not tied to any specific safety issues and is part of a "standard inspection" for the bridge, which dates to 1950. The A. Piatt Andrew  remains the longest and highest of any bridge along Route 128 as it loops from Gloucester to Braintree.

All of the work, which began  Monday, comes 3 1/2 years after the bridge underwent what proved to be a $36.6 million repair project that lasted seven years.

Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.

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