I-91 bridge construction: Behind the Upper Dummerston Road closure


BRATTLEBORO — Looking up at the Interstate 91 bridge while riding along Route 30, passersby may notice 16 feet of progress weekly.

That's pretty much how fast construction is going along, according to Project Manager Caleb Linn, of PCL Civil Constructors.

"We are getting close to finishing the Pier 1 segment," said Linn, referring to the piece of bridge currently making its way across the West River towards the abutment on the Route 30 side.

The structure is now nearing the center of the river, Linn said. And in the next month or so, he expects to start relocating the form traveler to the Route 30 side. That piece of equipment is used for moving beams and casting segments of the bridge.

The $60 million construction project, which began in the fall of 2013, will replace four bridges with two new structures. The state's Agency of Transportation hired PCL for construction and FIGG Bridge Engineers for design. Ninety percent of the price tag is covered by federal funding.

Once completed, one of the bridges will be used by vehicles traveling north and south on I-91 over Upper Dummerston Road. The other one is a new 1,036-foot arching concrete bridge going over the West River with viewing platforms for people walking, hiking or just visiting the area, according to i91brattleborobridge.com, a website devoted to the project.

The closure of Upper Dummerston Road was expected earlier last week.

"But heavy rains put a little bit of a damper on that work," Linn said on Thursday.

A "very large" hydraulic crane requires his group to close down the road while beams are set up over the roadway, he said. Altogether, 13 beams will go up with its assistance.

Linn hopes his crew will be finished with that task this week. They will then be finishing up the deck above Upper Dummerston Road.

According to an e-mail from Adamant Accord Principal Cindy Cook who sends out updates on the project, two tractor trailer deliveries are expected to come Monday from Exit 3 south on Putney Road around the Retreat Park to Route 30 then Upper Dummerston Road at approximately 9 a.m. Drivers should be prepared for minor delays in the downtown Brattleboro area.

Avoiding congestion downtown, the rest of the deliveries are expected to travel from Route 7 and Route 30 to Upper Dummerston Road.

"A total of three work days with Upper Dummerston Road closed are needed this coming week to complete the work," the document said, citing Monday, Tuesday and another unnamed day for the closures. "This work will be rescheduled if there is any precipitation or adverse road conditions. Again, we appreciate your patience and understanding."

The road will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and the same time on Tuesday when the beams are expected to be erected.

The schedule is known to change day to day. On Friday, the plan called for the road to remain open Tuesday on Town Meeting Day. That was no longer the idea on Saturday, when the e-mail quoted above went out.

Next to address are the northbound lanes of I-91 going over the West River referred to as "Bridge 9 Abutment 2," where rock blasting took place at the end of the summer. This section, Linn said, should be nearing completion within the next month or so.

"Then when spring comes, crews will come back out and finish up the necessary roadway to link existing structures," he said. "We're still holding to the same schedule communicated last to the public. Obviously, the focus is on safety and quality."

Former Vermont Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter, now running for governor, said the project would be delayed by a year, meaning four-lane traffic on the bridge would not return in the construction zone until November 2016. The entire project is not expected to be completed until spring 2017.

Minter cited permitting delays, unanticipated subsurface conditions and a harsh winter when she updated the Brattleboro Selectboard in March 2015.

"You've got to deal with winter, which hasn't been too bad. But heavy rains can affect us as well. It's been going as planned. The winter was not the best for Vermont in terms of what people enjoy recreationally, but we avoided the extreme temperatures and snow that we had the last two years," Linn said. "We're just plugging along as safely as possibly. We're trying to achieve a high-quality product."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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