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Whittier Bridge Groundbreaking, August 8, 2013MassDOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Davey today joined federal, state, and local officials to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the Patrick Administration’s Whittier Bridge Project on Interstate 95 in Salisbury, Newburyport and Amesbury.

The $292 million project is one of five “mega” projects in the historic Accelerated Bridge Program to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges.  The design-build project will replace the existing 57-year old six-lane bridge over the Merrimack River with a new eight-lane structure that will also include bicycle and pedestrian lanes.  The project will create or sustain approximately 400 direct construction jobs and 1,000 associated indirect jobs.

“The WhittierBridge replacement project shows what we can accomplish when we invest in our transportation infrastructure,” said Governor Patrick. “Through the Accelerated Bridge Program, we are building for the next generation while creating economic opportunity and hundreds of jobs in the process.”

“The Governor’s Accelerated Bridge Program along with our other road and bridge investments have begun to reverse the decline in our transportation assets,” says Secretary Davey. “At the same time, the Whittier design-build contract is the latest example of our focus on completing more projects on a streamlined and ambitious schedule.”

The Whittier Bridge is one of just 14 infrastructure projects nationwide selected by the Obama Administration for an expedited permitting and environmental review process designed to move projects as quickly as possible from concept to construction and completion.

The project includes the first shared use path along a Massachusetts interstate with pedestrian overlooks across the Merrimack River.

The new structure will have four travel lanes, a high-speed shoulder and a breakdown lane in each direction. The project also includes the replacement or reconstruction of four adjacent bridges along I-95 in Amesbury and Newburyport.

Construction of the new WhittierBridge will take place in phases. A minimum of three lanes in each direction will be maintained at all times during the peak traffic hours.

The $292 million design/build contract was awarded to the joint venture team of Walsh-McCourt JV1. Preliminary work is underway. Construction is expected to begin in early fall with completion scheduled for late 2016.

The Whittier Bridge Project is one of five “mega projects” in the Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP).  Other projects include the Fore River Bridge Project in Quincy-Weymouth, Burns Bridge Project in Shrewsbury-Worcester, Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project, and the Fall River/I-195 Improvement Project.

As a result of the ABP program, since 2008 the number of structurally deficient bridges has declined by 19%, from 543 to 440.

The current JohnGreenleafWhittierBridge was built in 1951 connecting Newburyport and Amesbury over the Merrimack River. It was named for the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier and replaced the previous Route 1 drawbridge.

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