Coming in more than 200 days ahead of schedule, the Washington Avenue Bridge opened to traffic on Wednesday, Sept. 14, after having been closed for 14 months.
The barriers were removed last weekend after the bridge was deemed substantially complete on Sept. 7. By Wednesday morning, the flashing ‘Bridge Closed’ signs, had been removed and traffic could once again pass through the critical east-west artery connecting Carter Street and Prattville to downtown Chelsea.
The replacement bridge was designed and constructed to the latest MassDOT Bridge Standards. It consists of two 11-foot travel lanes, a 4-foot shoulder on the east side, an 8-foot parking lane on the west side, and 9-foot sidewalks on both sides. McCourt Construction Company, the General Contractor, began construction in early 2015. The bridge, which was constructed in two stages, was closed in May 2015, and partially opened to emergency vehicles in January 2016. Construction has been substantially completed as of September 7. The bridge was initially to be closed for a period of not more than 700 days, and it was completed approximately 220 days ahead of schedule.
The bridge, which spans the existing commuter rail line and planned busway, was determined to be “functionally obsolete” during planning for the Silver Line Gateway project. The completion of the new bridge is a major milestone for the Silver Line Gateway Project. The new bridge provides clearance for the commuter rail and two planned busway lanes to pass beneath it.
The sidewalk on the west side will remain closed while final elements are being constructed.
The Silver Line Gateway will follow the existing Silver Line route in the Seaport District, before providing a new connection to the Blue Line and East Boston residents at Airport Station. In Chelsea, the Silver Line Gateway will operate in a new dedicated busway built in the former Grand Junction railroad right of way (now owned by the Commonwealth). There will be four new stations built in the busway — Eastern Avenue, Box District, Bellingham Square, and Chelsea. In addition to the Commonwealth’s purchase of the Grand Junction right of way from CSX, the Silver Line Gateway is able to leverage other recent public infrastructure investments, such as the Chelsea Street Bridge, Massport’s Coughlin Bypass Road, and Airport Station on the MBTA’s Blue Line.
A shared-use path will be incorporated into the project along the west side of the busway generally between Broadway and Eastern Avenue.