Mass. Finishes Latest 'Heavy Lift' Bridge Repair

The New York Times was in Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood this weekend for a first-hand look at the latest iteration of Massachusetts' "accelerated bridge construction."

Work on Boston's River Street Bridge this past weekend (MassDOT)
Work on Boston's River Street Bridge this past weekend (MassDOT)

The technique used at the River Street Bridge is called "heavy lift" by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The Times describes it as "when a hunk of [prefabricated] bridge is simply picked up and put into place." (The Times has a time-lapse video, too.)

Though project development started last year, according to the Times, the actual on-site work began on Friday, and the newly constructed bridge reopened to traffic late Monday night. MassDOT officials say the technique "avoided more than two years of lane restrictions."

The Times reports that "accelerated construction" was used to replace 14 bridges on I-93 last year, and MassDOT says it has used "heavy lift" at Phillipston and Wellesley sites, as well.

In late 2010, WBUR's Fred Thys reported on the then-transportation secretary announcing the shift to "the accelerated bridge program," after severe potholes opened up on I-93.

Similar rapid construction techniques are also being used on a much bigger project on the West Coast, according to the Times: San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is "getting 300 feet of new roadway one 25-foot prefabricated section at a time."

Have you seen the "accelerated" construction on I-93 or elsewhere? What are your thoughts on the methods?

This program aired on April 18, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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