Community meetings are on the docket in relation to the five-year, $150 million North Washington Street Bridge replacement project – with bids ready to be open this month and construction ready for April or May.
A meeting in the Navy Yard at the MGH Institute (36 First Ave.) will take place on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. to update residents of the Navy Yard on the project’s upcoming milestones, with other meetings around the Town expected soon as well.
City Engineer Para Jayasinghe said the project has been advertised for construction and contractors are picking up plans and putting in bids. The opening of bids is to happen on Feb. 21, and the hope is to have a contractor on board soon after that.
He said they have set a tentative start date of late April or early May.
“We are very hopeful that once the contractor is on board we can commence,” he said. “That is hoped to be in late April or early May. There is no exact date now. We want things to go as smooth as possible. There’s nothing to be gained by delaying anything by one millisecond. We are all rowing in the same direction to get a start on this as soon as possible.”
The project is being administered by the Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT) on behalf of the City.
One of the key reasons for the meetings is to keep everyone apprised of what will be going on and when. Even thought there will be two lanes going in and one going out at all times, there will also be a lot of disruptions in the five-year period.
He said they particularly want to be respectful to the community at Constitution Marina, who he said will be right next to the project and have been very patient.
One of the major difficulties is figuring out what to do with the utilities on the Bridge. Many of them, such as the 115kW line that powers a large swath of downtown, cannot be shut down or cut or detached.
So, one of the first duties when construction starts is to build a temporary utility bridge.
“They will need to have this other utility bridge because those lines don’t bend easily and then once they are on that bridge, we can begin to move forward,” he said. “For the first year, there will be construction and traffic will be inconvenienced. It will not be a walk in the park. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Right now, the existing bridge is under construction to help strengthen the substructure to make it safe until the new bridge is done. That is expensive work, and the only way to get it done is to close the lane where workers are underneath.