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To keep traffic flowing on the eastern end of Sugar Street (Route 302), while workers labor to replace a deteriorated bridge there, the westbound and eastbound lanes of Sugar Street have been relocated onto a short section of temporary bypass road that lies immediately south of the bridge site.
Traffic on that bypass road now follows a curving path that is bordered by concrete barrier rails, instead of using the adjacent straight road section where the 1929 bridge will be removed and be replaced by a wider, modern span. The bridge crosses a brook that originates in wetlands west of Main Street and then flows southward across the Ram Pasture to Hawley Pond.
State Department of Transportation (DOT) project manager David Neelands said December 1 said that the $1.9 million construction project serves two basic purposes. The work will replace an existing deteriorated bridge that is 88 years old. Also, the new bridge will be much wider than the one it replaces, alleviating congestion at a traffic bottleneck during the morning and evening rush periods. In the bridge replacement project, the 14-foot-long span that is 28 feet wide will be replaced with a bridge that is 43 feet wide. The bridge carries approximately 8,800 vehicles daily.
The project will involve improving an about 450-foot-long section of Sugar Street, with road improvements being made both east and west of the new span. Besides widening the bridge, the project will provide a larger opening for the brook to pass beneath Sugar Street.
What has been a two-lane bridge across the brook will be replaced by a three-lane bridge, in which two of those lanes will carry the eastbound traffic that approaches the traffic signal at the intersection of Sugar Street, South Main Street, Glover Avenue, and Main Street. The project will include a concrete sidewalk along the westbound lane of Sugar Street in that area.
The existing bridge consists of a single-span concrete slab that sits on stone rubble masonry abutments and wingwalls. The new bridge will employ a prefabricated box culvert.
The improvement project is intended to resolve the existing bridge’s structural deficiencies and its functional obsolescence. The bridge is structurally deficient due to its superstructure’s poor condition and is obsolete due to its narrowness, according to DOT.
Complicating the project was the large number of overhead and underground utility lines present in the area. Before work could start, many utility poles needed to be repositioned to make way for the project.
Under the contract that the state has with general contractor Dayton Construction Company, Inc, of Watertown, the firm has until the end of October 2018 to complete the project.
However, if winter weather conditions allow and no major obstacles are encountered, the work might be finished sooner than that, Mr Neelands said. Optimistically, if the construction firm is able to work through the winter, the project possibly could be completed by late June, he said. Mr Neelands stressed, however, that obstacles could delay an early project completion.
During wintertime construction, the pace of work is variable based on weather conditions, Mr Neelands said. The DOT’s normal eight-month construction season runs from April 1 through November 30.