Here We (Don’t) Go Again; New I-495 Bridge on Horizon

I-495 Southbound in Haverhill Monday afternoon was a virtual parking lot for the second business day in a row.

Unlike Friday’s traffic jam, caused by crumbling concrete at a bridge expansion joint, Monday’s problem was blamed on a two-car crash along a stretch of highway in Methuen, said Ryan Grannan-Doll, deputy communications director, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

“There was heavy traffic previously reported prior to exit 47 on I-495 south in Methuen at around 3:55 p.m. after the left lane was closed while crews responded to a two-car crash. At 4:12 p.m., the scene was cleared and all lanes have reopened,” Grannan-Doll told WHAV.

New $50 Million Bridge Project Uses Novel Sliding Arrangement

Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Nevertheless, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Monday he wants a planned $50 million bridge replacement project to be rushed.

“I intend to contact MassDOT and ask them to do everything possible to rush this project. We are very fortunate that this was not a fatality. We are also fortunate that the state and federal government have replaced numerous bridges in Haverhill over the past several years,” he said in a statement,” Fiorentini explained.

While advertising for contractors to build the replacement bridge is scheduled for the year beginning Oct. 1, the spans wouldn’t be completed for at least another two to three years, said Anthony Komornick, transportation program manager for Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC).

“It’s unclear as to whether the project would begin construction in 2017 or not,” Komornick told WHAV. He said a relatively modest $12 million is allocated for the first year of the project, $23 million the second year and $15.8 during the final year.

To ease traffic congestion, early plans call for a new bridge to be constructed between the existing north bound and southbound lanes of I-495. The new bridge would eventually use a novel “slide over” process for use, Komornick said. The existing bridges have lasted 55 years—since the start of the interstate highway system. However, he said, new bridges built along I-93 have a 75-year life span, noting design and building improvements made over the years.

The Commonwealth will pay 20 percent the replacement bridge cost, while the federal government picks up 80 percent.

3 thoughts on “Here We (Don’t) Go Again; New I-495 Bridge on Horizon

  1. Niki Tsongas must be on vacation….she usually makes a statement any time taxpayer money is spent on a project like this…as if somehow she deserves credit for it.

    Why hasn’t this incompetent mayor been contacting the DOT before the problem last week?? All you have to do is drive over the bridge to see it’s falling apart.

    • These bridges are inspected all of the time because the poor shape our infrastructure is in. Even if you don’t like the Mayor, how can you blame him? Call and complain before a massive hole opens up? Obviously he has been in contact with them as he mentioned details about the new bridge on the horizon. Jack, you are a troll on this website and comment negatively on almost everything. I think if you have an issue, you can definitely find a better platform to get more views on your comments. The Tribune will not get that done for you, and you need to find a hobby.