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whittier-bridge-new-2017The Baker-Polito Administration’s Department of Transportation today announced that the Whittier Bridge and a 4-mile section of I-95 will be opened to its full capacity of four lanes of traffic in both the north and southbound directions by 5 p.m., Friday, July 13.

This major milestone for the $318 million ongoing bridge replacement and corridor improvement project will mean that all vehicles traveling on I-95 north and southbound will have access to the full benefits of the new bridge structure and widened roadway.

“Replacing the Whittier Bridge is an example of our administration’s focus on upgrading the Commonwealth’s core infrastructure and ensuring residents and commuters are able to utilize our roads and bridges to get to destinations and opportunities across Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to see the highway opening to four full lanes of traffic in each direction, and we thank the crews, engineers, designers, and local leaders for their support and efforts in helping us reach this important milestone.”

“Our administration is proud of the close coordination among the municipal officials, local leaders, key stakeholders, and the MassDOT project team throughout this project, and we thank all those who have played a role in the construction and design process,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Crews are continuing to conduct finishing work on the bridge and will be installing final pavement markings in the coming weeks. Additionally, work is continuing on the shared-use path that is being constructed adjacent to I-95 northbound in this area, which is necessitating a closure of the breakdown lane on I-95 northbound through the end of July. This component of the project is currently expected to be completed this fall.

“The new Whittier Bridge demonstrates that bridges can be beautiful, functional and have multi-modal features,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “The new Whittier Bridge has eight total travel lanes for motor vehicles, adequate shoulders off the travel lanes, an arch design, a shared use path nearing completion, and the replacing of this bridge required work on four bridges in the general area.  We are pleased that the Whittier Bridge is reaching this major milestone and would like to thank municipal leaders, elected officials and members of the public who were actively engaged with MassDOT through the design and construction process.”

“I am proud of the MassDOT crews for their tireless efforts in replacing this important bridge and ensuring we carried out this project in ways that provide the most public benefits,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We have appreciated the support from elected officials, local leaders, and the public throughout this major project and we look forward to reaching the full completion milestone.”

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.

“This project is vital for economic development in the region and I am thrilled to hear that the Whittier Bridge will be reopening,” said Congressman Seth Moulton. “Fixing our crumbling infrastructure is of the upmost importance to the economic vitality of the state and region.”

“The Baker-Polito Administration and MassDOT have done a tremendous job throughout the entire process and we are thrilled to be one step closer towards its completion,” said State Representative James Kelcourse.

“As we celebrate this important milestone I’d like to thank Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and Secretary Pollack for their continued advocacy and support of vital infrastructure projects such as the Whittier Bridge Project,” said Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray. “This project represents a significant improvement to our local infrastructure by increasing capacity along the I-95 corridor. Also, the first of its kind shared-use path will create greater recreational opportunities for area residents and tourists alike.”

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 3.5-mile segment to accommodate a widened I-95 from Exit 57 in Newburyport to Exit 60 in Salisbury.

“The Whittier Bridge Replacement has been a very long and complex construction project that required tremendous patience on the part of our abutters as well as travelers,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday. “We developed a very positive working relationship with the contractors Walsh/McCourt and MassDOT and met throughout the project. We are excited about the successful negotiations for the construction of a Shared Use Path to connect the Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury Rail Trails. This is a tremendous accomplishment for our communities and interstate travel.”

“The Town of Salisbury is excited about the Whittier Bridge project being open to the maximum amount of travel lanes,” said Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington. “Our busy tourist season depends on easy visitor access to the Town from I-95 and I am grateful to MassDOT and the contractor for having reached this milestone.”

In addition to the bridge and highway improvements, a shared-use path is being constructed to facilitate area connections to regional trail systems. This will be the first shared-use path along a Massachusetts interstate with pedestrian overlooks across the Merrimack River.

The Baker-Polito Administration appreciates the cooperation and patience of the traveling public as investments are made in core infrastructure. Members of the public are encouraged to utilize the appropriate technology tools including, our GoTime travel app, and other wayfinding resources to find the most appropriate route, mode, and timing of travel during our construction operations.

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