Governor Deval Patrick today joined local leaders in Fall River to highlight over $240 million investment in road and bridges projects currently under construction and announce an additional $850,000 to support a phase II planning study to examine issues surrounding the possible removal of the elevated portions of Route 79 to open waterfront property for potential redevelopment and possibly tie into the South Coast Rail project as a potential station location. The road and bridge projects complement the Governor's commitment to moving the South Coast Rail project forward as a key economic development opportunity for the Fall River region.
During today's visit, the Governor toured the $186 million Brightman Street Bridge replacement project, one of the largest projects in the Commonwealth. He also received an update on other important projects in Fall River, including the multi-phased maintenance and repair projects planned for the Braga Bridge. A $14 million painting project on the Braga Bridge currently underway is funded by the Governor's Accelerated Bridge Program to reduce the inherited backlog of structurally-deficient bridges.
The Fall River projects are among the more than 385 road and bridge projects ongoing across the Commonwealth this summer. The Patrick-Murray Administration's investment in roads and bridges totals more than $1 billion and will sustain more than 10,000 jobs. The road and bridge projects are a part of the more than $4 billion infrastructure investments being made as part of the Administration's Massachusetts Works initiative putting nearly 20,000 people to work across the Commonwealth this construction season.
The Brightman Street Bridge project is a four-phased effort to relocate Route 6 over the Taunton River connecting Fall River and Somerset. The new double drawbridge stretches 1,700 feet from the east abutment in Fall River to the west abutment in Somerset and stands a quarter-mile north of the existing bridge. Built in 1906, the current bridge handles 45,000 vehicles per day.
Massachusetts doubled its investment in road and bridge construction in just three years, to more than $1 billion. As a result of these investments, particularly the Accelerated Bridge Program, the number of structurally deficient bridges in the Commonwealth has dropped nearly 10% in two years. At the same time, MassDOT reduced the time from construction contract advertisement to construction start by more than 43 percent – a drop from 218 days in 2008 to 124 days in 2009. For ARRA projects, the timeline from construction contract advertisement to notice to proceed was reduced to 48 days, allowing MassDOT to put people to work on construction projects faster than ever before.