Delayed Crossing: State Officials Say It Will Be More Like March Before Chelsea Street Bridge Re-opens to Traffic

Workers can be seen on the Chelsea Street Bridge.

While the overall Chelsea Street Bridge project is on time and on budget, state transportation officials said this week that the new thoroughfare would not open to traffic until March.

It was originally slated to re-open Dec. 1st.

“We’re still on schedule for overall completion in April, but getting the trusses across and the deck across are delayed a bit with the weather turning now,” said Frank DePaola, the MassDOT Highway Administrator. “I’m not sure we’ll get the deck on as quickly as hoped. It should be March at the latest.”

Despite that little setback, the mammoth project still has many more positives than negatives.

DePaola said that the $125 million project has remained on budget with JF White as the contractor. It also is on track to be substantially completed this April.

This week has actually been the beginning of some major visible progress on the bridge as the complex and laborious process of putting the trusses in place has begun.

Working day and night, crews have started positioning the 600-ton trusses between the two giant skyscraper-like hoisting ends.

That process involves pushing the trusses into place four-feet at a time. After each four-foot push, crews have to stop and check the alignment. Each four-foot positioning process, DePaola said, takes about one hour.

During that time, from Tuesday until today (Thursday), the channel has been closed to marine traffic. It will re-open to marine traffic late on Thursday.

Once the trusses are complete, the decking will be placed across the Creek. Once that is finished, DePaola said, traffic will be able to use the bridge once again.

It has been closed to traffic since June 1st – causing quite a traffic stir in the neighboring communities of East Boston and Revere.

In the end, DePaola said the final goal will have been met, which is to raise the clearance to 250 feet and the width of the channel to 175 feet. Those two goals will allow double-hulled tankers to travel past the bridge and to the oil terminals along Lee Burbank Highway in Revere and Eastern Avenue in Chelsea.

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