BILLERICA – Avoiding the Route 4 bridge on morning commutes won’t be necessary come tomorrow.
The 82-year-old bridge, on Nashua Road in West Billerica, is scheduled to reopen tomorrow, more than six months ahead of schedule.
“It’s going to ease traffic in that area,” said Abdul Alkhatib, director of Billerica’s Department of Public Works. “Some people are avoiding traffic in that area completely because of the construction.”
The bridge’s $4.5 million rehabilitation involved a complete replacement of the bridge and roadway approaches.
A new steel superstructure was constructed and a portion of the existing wing walls, abutments and piers within the Concord River were excavated and demolished.
The project was originally designed for three stages of construction, in which two lanes of traffic were to remain open at all times. When the project’s contractor, ET&L Corp. of Stow, eliminated on-stage of the project, it made it possible to demolish and construct one half of the bridge at a time.
A temporary traffic signal was installed to control alternating one-way traffic through the construction zone during the project’s first phase, which was completed last December.
The bridge was originally expected to be completed in May 2009. The accelerated schedule added no cost to the project.
“If a contractor can do it way ahead of time, it saves them money,” said Alkhatib.
Adam Hurtubise, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Highway Department, which oversaw the project, said the state has placed a high priority in seeing that road and bridge construction projects are completed on time.
“Seeing this bridge completed six months ahead of schedule is an amazing accomplishment,” said state Rep. Bill Greene, a Billerica Democrat. “The early reopening of the bridge is a great benefit to Billerica.”
This is Billerica’s second bridge rehabilitation project to be completed on time in less than a year.
On Dec. 29, the Andover Road bridge reopened to traffic, several months ahead of schedule.
The $1.2 million replacement of the 80-year-old span over the B&M railroad tracks included a wide sidewalk on one side for pedestrians, as well as the reconstruction of 200 feet of roadway on both sides of the bridge, granite curbing and steel beam guardrails.
The final layer of pavement was put down in the spring, completing the project.