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Fall River, Governor Patrick, Route 79 Groundbreaking, September 13, 2013Governor Deval Patrick, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey, federal, state, and local officials today broke ground on the $197 million Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvement Project to reconstruct the interchange of Route 79 and I-195 in Fall River.

The project is the final of the five “mega projects” funded through the Patrick Administration’s Accelerated Bridge Program to repair and replace structurally deficient bridges across the Commonwealth.  The other projects include the Burns Bridge in Worcester/Shrewsbury, the Fore River Bridge in Quincy/Weymouth, the Longfellow Bridge in Boston/Cambridge and the I-95 Whittier Bridge in Amesbury/Newburyport.

“This is a truly transformative project for Fall River and the South Coast,” said Governor Patrick. “It will put 300 people to work and position Fall River as a hub for economic development. After years of neglect, our Accelerated Bridge Program is rebuilding hundreds of the Commonwealth’s bridges, putting people to work and delivering projects faster and more efficiently than ever before. There is more work to do, but I am proud of what we have accomplished in rebuilding our infrastructure and leaving it stronger for the next generation.”

Known locally as the “spaghetti ramps,” the Route 79/I-195 interchange built in 1965 is a bi-level structure of 111 spans that stretch 8,700 feet.  Currently, 11 bridges within the interchange are structurally deficient; many other components are functionally obsolete.

The project will bring the roadway and bridges up to current standards; remove the elevated section of Route 79 and build a new surface roadway to connect with Davol Street and the waterfront; rebuild the nine “spaghetti ramps” connecting Route 79 and I-195; construct two new roadways; repair the Braga Bridge; and enhance pedestrian and bicycle access. The final result will improve safety for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists and increase access to the city’s waterfront.  The video animation shows the multi-year construction process.

“While this is a major opportunity to fix what we have, it’s also a chance to incorporate new thinking into how we can provide more and better accommodations for new needs like walking and cycling,” said MassDOT Secretary Davey.  “But moreover, this job is a recognition of the positive impacts transportation projects can have on the economy, when we think broadly about what we want out of the finished product and when we’re smart about what we build.”

The MassDOT Board of Directors in June authorized the project’s design-build contract to the joint venture, Barletta Heavy Division-O&G Industries, Inc.  Construction is expected to be complete in the fall of 2016.

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