MassDOT will initiate around the clock work to install a new transformer and motors on the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge beginning at 6:00 am on Sunday, March 4. The bridge will be closed to traffic during the work.
The electrical system that allows both cars and vessels to pass the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge requires urgent transformer and motor upgrades that could take three weeks. The work, if left undone, could cripple the span for an unknown period of time.
The inadequate transformer capacity issue was brought home last February when a problem caused a closure. The incident initiated MassDOT’s current effort to provide a permanent remedy through the installation of new transformers and motors.
“A March start offers us an appropriate time for addressing this job. The procurement has been completed, the contractor has agreed to a 24/7 mobilization, and NStar is on board,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola. “While we understand the bridge closure is an inconvenience to area drivers, the March timeframe also allows us to avoid impacting the busy tourist season.”
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said, “MassDOT is taking a proactive approach to the problem. It’s critical to fix the bridge’s electrical system before another breakdown triggers an extended closure. I appreciate MassDOT accommodating the City’s request that contractor adopt the extraordinary measure of deploying work crews around the clock until the job is complete."
During the electrical upgrade, the bridge will be set in the open position to allow marine vessels to transit the area in accordance with Federal Law and the US Coast Guard. Specific detour routes will be posted on MassDOT’s website.
The work includes replacing the existing transformer and the replacement of the bridge’s 14 motors. The goal is that the upgrade will minimize impact to marine and vehicular traffic when future maintenance and repair work becomes necessary.
The aggressive work schedule is dependent on weather conditions. MassDOT will provide progress updates throughout the project.