NORTH ADAMS -- The Hadley Overpass will be closed for four nights next week -- the first time the entire bridge has been shut down completely to traffic since September.
The bridge will close from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., beginning Monday, July 23, with closures continuing through Thursday night. It will also be closed on Monday, July 30 from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"The purpose of the closures is to allow crews to install expansion joints on the overpass," MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes said Wednesday. "The joints run the entire width of the bridge."
He said preparatory work will begin on the bridge at 6 p.m., with construction crews removing temporary materials put in place of the joints. Crews will then lay the steel joint across the bridge and weld it together.
"As part of the installation process, joints have to be set at the proper height and locked into place with the concrete," Verseckes said. "The concrete also requires time to cure."
Electronic message boards on Curran Highway and at the foot of the Hadley Overpass near City Hall have already been changed, alerting drivers to the upcoming closures, he said.
During the closures, traffic will be rerouted along Route 8A.
Rehabilitation work on the 940-foot-long bridge began in May 2008 and was expected to be completed by June of this year. However, the completion date was pushed back until July 2013 following the discovery of deterioration on the steel
The discovery, which resulted in $4.5 million of extra work orders, helped push the state-funded project from an estimated cost of $24.4 million to its current price tag of $34 million.
Safety guidelines put in place by the U.S. Department of Transportation after the collapse of the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 also prohibit crews from working on more than one steel beam at a time, slowing down a project that was once six months ahead of schedule.
The steel truss in the center of the bridge is also complicating repairs in another way. According to project engineers, the Hadley Overpass is the only known bridge in District 1, which includes all of Berkshire County and parts of neighboring counties, to have a combination of I-beam construction and a truss.
Because of its unique construction, the truss of the bridge cannot be removed; a substructure was built to hold it in place while parts are repaired. The section must also be shut down completely during repairs.
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