Ward Hill I-495 Bridge Replacement Begins This Fall, Runs Through 2022

Work to replace the I-495 bridge over the Merrimack River in Ward Hill begins this November and will continue through spring, 2022.

The state Department of Transportation Monday awarded a $90 million design-build contract to SPS New England and confirmed the construction schedule first outlined by 97.9 WHAV FM nearly two years ago. The new north and southbound bridges, between exits 48 and 49, will accommodate up to five lanes of travel. The new northbound bridge allows for up to three through lanes, one future use lane and an auxiliary lane, officials said. The southbound bridge calls for four travel lanes—three through lanes and one future use lane.

Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said, “This highly traveled bridge provides an important regional connection between destinations for the public and we are looking forward to replacing this bridge so it can be used by future generations.” Gulliver added “innovative construction techniques will help to mitigate traffic and wetland impacts.”

In 2016, Anthony Komornick, transportation program manager for Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, told WHAV about one possible technique. This would mean building spans between the existing north bound and southbound lanes of I-495 and sliding them over for use.

The existing bridges have lasted nearly 60 years—since the start of the interstate highway system.

The Merrimack River is home to Shortnose Sturgeon and due to their migratory patterns and spawning habitat in the area of the project, officials said, work restrictions in the river will be in place. To maintain traffic, a statement added, construction and demolition takes place in multiple stages, using temporary crossovers to shift southbound traffic. Construction on the other bridge is expected to require numerous off-peak lane closures to complete the work.

Ten automobiles were sidelined with flat tires last year because of potholes on the stretch. After receiving complaints, the state paid $2.9 million for temporary repairs. Two weeks ago, Haverhill City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua asked officials to prepare for the project as well as the future replacement of the route 125 Basiliere Bridge.