SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – If you’ve driven on the elevated part of I-91 in Springfield, you know it needs major repairs, but there’s reason to be hopeful.
The state is ready to start the bidding for a $230 million project to permanently repair the decaying elevated section of I-91 through Springfield. This, after chunks of concrete fell onto the road Tuesday and a major pothole damaged cars in July.
It’s time for repairs: the current I-91 bridge deck was built in the late 1960s. Tim Brennan of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission said ideally, construction could begin at the start of next year. The state is planning on advertising for bidders for the project sometime in September. They would like to award a bidder by the end of 2014.
“It’s on an expedited schedule which means rather than a 6-year long project, it will be a 3-year long project, but it’s a very complicated project and we have to keep traffic moving over that 3-year period,” said Brennan.
Brennan told 22News the original plan was going to cost twice as much, at more than $400 million because they were going to replace the base of the structure as well as the deck. They determined the structure itself is safe, and will only get reinforced and painted. The entire bridge deck will need to be replaced. That would mean one lane of traffic will be closed as new cement slabs are set and the shoulder is widened. They will start with repairing the middle lane.
“They should just do it once and do it good, and be aware of the safety measurements that need to be taken care of,” said commuter Festus Kinyanjui, who drives that part of I-91 into Springfield every day.
Most drivers said they’d rather drive through three years of construction than deal with the current condition of the heavily traveled and deteriorating highway.
If you’d like to look at the projected detours during the years of construction, click here.