STAY COMM

MassDOT of­fi­cials are urg­ing com­muters to pre­pare for a ‘hellish’ three weeks as the Com­mon­wealth Av­enue Bridge is re­placed.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - KRISTIN TOUSSAINT @kristin­dakota kristin.toussaint@metro.us

MassDOT of­fi­cials are warn­ing com­muters to pre­pare for a “hellish three weeks” as con­struc­tion on the Com­mon­wealth Av­enue Bridge is set to start Fri­day.

Ba­si­cally, “Stay away,” ad­vised Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Stephanie Pol­lack at a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day.

The con­struc­tion project will re­place the east­bound bridge deck, on which mo­tor ve­hi­cles and Green Line B branch trains travel. Un­der the bridge is the Mas­sachusetts Turn­pike, the Worces­ter/Fram­ing­ham Com­muter Rail Line and Am­trak tracks, which will also be im­pacted by the project.

“If you don’t need to be here, don’t come any­where near the area,” Pol­lack told re­porters. “Num­ber 2, if you have to go through it, have a plan. … This is re­ally go­ing to be dis­rup­tive to ev­ery­one who is on Com­mon­wealth Av­enue, on the Turn­pike, uses the BU Bridge.”

T com­muters will start see­ing the ef­fects be­gin­ning Wed­nes­day at 9 p.m., when shut­tle buses will re­place train ser­vice along the Green Line B branch be­tween the Bab­cock Street and Bland­ford Street stops. There will be no T tracks over the bridge dur­ing the project, Pol­lack warned, as they will also be re­placed.

For driv­ers, street clo­sures be­gin at 7 p.m. on Thurs­day, July 27, when the area of Com­mon­wealth Av­enue be­tween Packard’s Cor­ner and Ken­more Square will close to traf­fic through

“If you don’t need to be here, don’t come any­where near the area.” Stephanie Pol­lack

5 a.m. on Aug. 14.

On Fri­day night, the Mass Pike re­stric­tions will start as al­ter­nat­ing sides of I-90 are re­duced to one lane of travel af­ter 7 p.m. on week­days and be­tween 9 p.m. Fri­days to 5 a.m. Mon­days. The first week­end of the project will re­strict in­bound traf­fic to one lane and out­bound to two, with the next week­end re­strict­ing out­bound traf­fic to one lane and in­bound to two.

For pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists, there will be full ac­cess over the bridge on the west­bound side and tem­po­rary signs will help them nav­i­gate any de­tours.

The project is ex­pected to be one of the most dis­rup­tive projects the High­way Divi­sion has un­der­taken in a long time, said Act­ing High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jonathan Gul­liver.

Work­ers are us­ing an “ac­cel­er­ated bridge tech­nique” which is more dis­rup­tive to traf­fic in the mo­ment but will shorten the project’s length sig­nif­i­cantly, of­fi­cials say. With nor­mal tech­niques, the con­struc­tion would take about five years. The first stage of the project is ex­pected to be com­pleted Aug. 14.

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Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Stephanie Pol­lack warned com­muters that if you don’t need to be in the Com­mon­wealth Av­enue area for the next three weeks, avoid it.

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