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image008-2Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today joined Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, members of the Massachusetts Legislature, municipal officials, and local leaders at a ribbon cutting event in Newburyport to celebrate the completion of the $318 million Whittier Bridge/I-95 Improvement Project. This major construction project consisted of replacing the existing Whittier Bridge as well as widening and improving a 4-mile section of I-95 in Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury, and replacing four adjacent bridges.

“We are proud to celebrate the completion of the Whittier Bridge Project, which has increased the capacity and reliability of this important regional travel corridor,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This project is the result of close coordination with local stakeholders and a great example of the investments we are making in transportation infrastructure across the Commonwealth to improve travel options for everyone.”

“The collaboration and partnership between the MassDOT project team, municipal officials, local leaders and stakeholders throughout this project has been key to its success, and we look forward to this bridge and highway continuing to serve the public for many years to come,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

image009The project also constructed the William Lloyd Garrison Trail, the first shared-use (pedestrian and bicycle) pathway within an interstate highway layout in the Commonwealth. The Garrison Trail, which was opened to the public this month, is located adjacent to I-95 northbound in this area and travels over the new Whittier Bridge. The trail was named after William Lloyd Garrison as a result of input from local students, teachers, and elected officials who requested that the prominent abolitionist who was born in Newburyport be commemorated through this project.

“This project has widened the highway throughout this area so that there are four travel lanes in each direction, fully replaced the Whittier Bridge with a new, network tied arch structure, and added multimodal accommodations with the new Garrison Trail, ” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We have appreciated the support of the elected officials and local communities throughout our construction operations and we are pleased that residents and commuters can now enjoy all of the benefits of this project.”

“We thank the MassDOT staff members and project team for their hard work in carrying out this project in ways that have provided the most benefits, as well as the local leaders for their coordination and input throughout every stage of this project,” said Highway Administrator Gulliver. “We are pleased that this project is now completed as people traveling throughout this area now have full access to the bridge and highway, as well as the multimodal pathway next to I-95.”

The previous bridge at this location was built in 1951 and named for the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier. The bridge carries vehicles on I-95 north and southbound between Newburyport and Amesbury over the Merrimack River. The structure is a critical regional transportation link for people and commerce throughout the region.

“The Whittier Bridge Project signifies a huge success for the Department of Transportation and Baker-Polito Administration,” said State Representative James Kelcourse. “I would like to thank the Department of Transportation for their efforts and collaboration with local officials and community members throughout the entire project.”

“As we celebrate the completion of the Whittier Bridge Project, I’d like to thank Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and Secretary Pollack for their continued advocacy and support of these vital infrastructure projects,” said Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray. “This project represents a significant improvement to our local infrastructure by increasing capacity along the I-95 corridor, and the first of its kind shared use path expands access to our trail networks allowing for greater exploration and enjoyment of our community.”

The new bridge cross section includes four travel lanes and a breakdown lane in each direction. Through this project, four adjacent bridges have been replaced or reconstructed along a 4-mile segment to accommodate a widened I-95 from Exit 57 in Newburyport to Exit 60 in Salisbury.

“Representatives from Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury formed the Whittier Bridge Working Group and began meeting with MassDOT in October of 2011 regarding the $300 million replacement project for the Whittier Bridge which broke ground in October of 2011,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday. “This five-year project was very complex and required tremendous patience of the abutters, but it is now complete and it is a magnificent bridge connecting MA and NH on I-95. We are very proud of the working group’s successful advocacy for the construction of the Garrison Path, the first shared used path of its kind in our state and that connects Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury’s rail trails.  Congratulations to MassDOT and Walsh/McCourt for their tremendous work in building the new bridge.”

“The completion of this project represents a critical public safety milestone for the thousands of drivers who utilize the Whittier Bridge daily as commuters and tourists, as well as for the businesses that rely on safe roads and bridges to move their products up and down the coast,” said Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington. “The partnership between MassDOT and the local communities throughout the entire planning and construction process has been exemplary, and I extend my gratitude and appreciation to everyone involved.”

The Baker-Polito Administration is continuing to invest in transportation infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. Over the next 5 years, MassDOT expects to spend over $7.3 billion on roadway and bridge construction projects. This includes support for the Municipal Small Bridge and Complete Streets Funding Programs, two local funding programs created by the Baker-Polito Administration.

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