BRATTLEBORO — Construction to replace the Interstate 91 bridge decks crossing Canal Street/U.S. Route 5 is planned for next spring and summer.
“There will be activities this fall but it shouldn’t be a major impact on the the traveling public,” Bob Klinefelter, project manager at the Vermont Agency of Transportation, told the Select Board at its meeting last week.
VTrans said the project involves replacing the existing concrete bridge decks, and rehabilitating the existing concrete abutments and piers. Temporary crossovers will be used on I-91 to maintain traffic while each bridge deck is replaced, and alternating one-way traffic will be used on Canal Street/Route 5 at times throughout construction.
Replaced first will be the southbound bridge deck over about 56 days during March through May. The northbound bridge deck is scheduled to be replaced over about 49 days during July through August.
The I-91 southbound onramp for southbound Route 5 traffic will be closed while both bridge decks are being replaced. A temporary ramp will be constructed for southbound Route 5 traffic to access the southern I-91 southbound onramp.
VTrans anticipates construction of the I-91 crossovers will occur during the fall and the work will be sequenced to avoid use of I-91 crossovers during holiday weekends.
The agency said it evaluated alternatives for rehabilitation or replacement of the bridge in an engineering study completed in September 2021.
“Given the age of the structure and current conditions, the engineering study recommended a bridge deck replacement,” states a project information sheet.
Minor changes will be made to the northbound offramp along with some safety improvements on Canal Street.
The bridge is considered by the agency to be in “fair condition.” Some deterioration has been found on the overhangs, prompting the project to replace the decks.
The substructure is considered to be in “satisfactory condition.”
To ease traffic during morning and afternoon commutes, two-way traffic will be permitted on Route 5 on weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. It also will be allowed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Earth work is expected to begin in the median on I-91 during late summer.
Delia Makhetha, public information consultant with WSP USA Inc., said she believes another public meeting will be held ahead of the project.
“And once we do get into construction, we’ll be sending out weekly construction updates,” she said. “We send these via email and this will give you an idea of what you can expect for the coming week.”
Traffic alerts also will be available to those who want them. Contact information will be available on information from the presentation, which will be posted on brattleboro.org.
Having heard from community members whose vehicles and tires have been damaged by the resurfacing project currently underway on Route 30, Select Board Chairman Ian Goodnow asked if similar issues could arise with the bridge construction.
“I think it’s always possible on a construction site that you have nails or screws or whatever that inadvertently fall,” Klinefelter said. “Traffic should only be running on paved surfaces here so it’s a little different.”
Part of the contract for the project will require the contractor to install safety measures to protect the public.
“So they can’t be pouring the deck and having concrete dripping on cars for instance, you know, that’s just obviously not acceptable,” Klinefelter said.
The plan calls for completing the project before Labor Day weekend in 2024. Incentives are built into the contract to strongly encourage meeting deadlines.