MassDOT announced today that due to design errors on the part of Walsh Construction’s engineering firm HDR Inc., Walsh will be unable to meet the dates established for the 2016 closure phase and there is a new project schedule for the I-90/Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project.
The first closure phase is now scheduled to occur in 2017. As a result, this June MassDOT will increase the number of travel lanes in each direction at the project site from three lanes to four on I-90.
The Commonwealth Avenue Superstructure Replacement Project involves the replacement of the existing bridge which carries Commonwealth Avenue and the MBTA Green Line (Line B) over the MBTA Commuter Rail Line and over I-90, (the Massachusetts Turnpike). Last year, Walsh Construction Company was awarded the contract with a bid of $81.8 million and was given notice to proceed in June 2015.
This past January, MassDOT was notified by Walsh Construction that design errors on the part of their engineering firm of HDR Inc., have resulted in fabrication delays, and Walsh Construction would be unable to meet the dates established for the 2016 closure phase.
In a statement about this postponement, Walsh Construction said, “During the final bridge design quality control checks, two issues related to the design of the new structural steel girders were encountered that required revision and modification to the final steel girder design. As a result, the fabrication of the new steel girders is not able to be conducted as originally contemplated to meet a shutdown in the summer of 2016. However, in conjunction with MassDOT and our designer, we have resolved these issues and look forward to successfully completing the first phase of the project in the summer of 2017.”
The contract with Walsh Construction called for restricted closure durations for each impacted transportation facility: 18 ½ days for Green Line, 17 ½ days for Commonwealth Ave, 9 ½ days for the I-90 crossover, and 49 hours for commuter rail. The contract required these closures to take place sometime within two closure windows: July 21, 2016 – August 29, 2016 and July 27, 2017 – August 28, 2017. These dates were originally chosen because the Boston Red Sox would be out of town, Boston University would not be in session, and because data revealed that traffic volumes are approximately 15% lower in the summer months compared with the fall.
MassDOT has decided to postpone the two closure phases of the project by one year to July and August of 2017 and 2018, respectively. Walsh Construction will forfeit the $7.2 million incentive tied to successful completion of the 2016 closure phase.
The postponement means I-90 drivers will see some short-term traffic relief. MassDOT is currently in the process of reconstructing the I-90 median in the vicinity of Commonwealth Avenue, which included performing advanced work for the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project. This project has required reducing I-90 from four travel lanes to three. Under the previous schedule this three lane configuration would have been maintained until the beginning of the first shutdown in August 2016.
Due to postponement, I-90 will be opened back to four lanes as of June 30, 2016 and remain four lanes until the beginning of the first shutdown now rescheduled for July 2017. Traffic will be reduced from four lanes in both directions to two lanes in both directions during July 2017 and August 2017.
Due to the postponement, the 2016/2017 shutdown dates and final completion date will be shifted back one year.
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