NORTH ADAMS -- Completion dates for construction of the Hadley Overpass have been extended at least another six months, as repairs to the steel truss system underneath the bridge continue to slow the pace of construction crews.
State Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials now anticipate the majority of construction on the $34.5 million project to be complete in late 2013, with final painting of its truss to happen in 2014. Rehabilitation of the bridge, which began in 2008, was expected to be complete at the beginning of July.
"The delay in the project is because of deteriorated steel in the truss system," Michael Verseckes, MassDOT spokesman, said Friday. "This is where the work is concentrated on now. The ongoing steel repairs are being done while the bridge remains open for two-way travel. We can only repair smaller sections at a time, so as not to affect the structural integrity of the rest of the bridge."
However, work will return to the surface of the bridge, as crews begin replacing the deck on its western side, near Western Gateway Heritage State Park. Two-way traffic is expected to continue during this portion of the construction.
"We know that some residents may think that work has been stopped on the bridge, but it has been on-going underneath the bridge," he said. "It's easy to assume that construction has halted, especially for those who use the bridge several times a day without seeing any noticeable changes. It's a reasonable response. People will start to see more next week."
In early summer, the two-lanes of traffic will be shifted to the western side of the bridge, as crews begin work on the steel truss underneath the eastern side of bridge.
Traffic will again shift in early fall, as crews begin steel repairs underneath the center of the bridge, followed by the deck replacement for the center section. Northbound traffic, heading into the city from State Street, will be rerouted to the eastern side of the bridge. Southbound traffic, heading along Route 8 into Adams, will be shifted to the western side of the bridge.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, with painting of the truss scheduled for the spring of 2014. Painting of the truss will not affect traffic flow over the bridge. This is the second time the bridge's expected date of completion has been extended out. Last January, state officials announced a one-year extension, pushing back the date from June 2012 to July 2013, after the discovery of deterioration of the steel truss in the center of the bridge. The unanticipated deterioration also resulted in an additional $4.5 million in extra work orders and materials for the repairs, pushing the repair costs to $34.5 million. Original estimates for the project were $24.4 million.
Further complicating matters are delays stemming from U.S. Department of Transportation safety guidelines put into effect after the collapse of the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 and the bridge's unique construction -- removing too much steel at any one time on the bridge's superstructure or frame could result in a collapse of its center section.
In an interview with the Transcript last summer, resident engineer Charles Najimy, a member of the MassDOT team overseeing the site, said the bridge is a combination of I-beam construction and a truss -- the only known bridge of its kind within District One, which includes all of Berkshire County and parts of neighboring counties.
That combination, he said, required construction crews to build a structure that would help bear the weight of traffic as repairs are made.
"You can't take half [of the truss] down or the whole thing comes apart," he said.
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