Why I-91 needs to be reconstructed

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The first stages of prep work in the I-91 reconstruction project in Springfield are set to begin this Sunday night.

Repairs have become continuous, and as time goes on I-91 is becoming more and more difficult to repair. The state is pouring money into something that won’t last. The viaduct rehabilitation project will give this highway another 20-25 years of use.

Every single day, 75,000 cars and trucks travel along the patchwork of concrete that is Interstate 91 in Springfield. The highway is nearly half a century old, and the impending viaduct reconstruction project is about more than creating a smooth ride.

Tim Brennan of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission told 22News, “Big pieces of the deck have fallen out. Pieces of the deck have fallen below onto parked vehicles or maybe even pedestrians trying to get to and from their vehicles. It is a safety issue.”

The temporary emergency repairs have become almost constant, and expensive. MassDOT told 22news the emergency repairs from April 2014 to April of this year cost $363,000. As for the project itself; that’ll cost about $185 million in total. The Federal Highway Administration will pay for 80%, the remaining 20% from MassDOT.

“It has a nine million dollar incentive for every day you beat the clock, you get a 50k dollar reward toward a maximum of nine million,” said Brennan.

The contractor will also be penalized $50,000 a day if the project runs late.

That work is set to begin this Sunday night and will first be only done in the overnight hours, not during heavy commute times.

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