By Lisa Capobianco
Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) and Southington officials have prepared for the I-84 bridge project over Marion Avenue, which will begin June 27.
During a recent public information meeting, officials of ConnDOT and the Southington Police Department provided an overview of the project and how traffic will be handled. The replacement of the bridge superstructures will result in a temporary closure of I-84 eastbound and westbound at Exit 30 and Marion Avenue will be closed for a maximum of 56 hours from Friday, June 27 until Monday, June 30. The rain date is July 11.
Built in 1963, each bridge along I-84 carries three lanes of traffic, averaging 81,800 vehicles daily (according to data from 2012). On a scale of 0 to 9, the bridge superstructure received a rating of four, which is based on the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) General Conditions Ratings. Reasons for the replacement include diagonal cracks, exposed reinforcement and tendons and longitudinal cracks in the bean bottom.
“These two bridges are deficient,” said Mary Baker, a project engineer of ConnDOT.
The project involves the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) technique, which uses innovative planning, design and construction methods in a cost-effective way to reduce onsite construction time. The existing superstructures will be replaced using Self Propelled Motorized Transporter (SPMT) units, platform vehicles that have the ability to carry large structures including bridges. These transporters will move prefabricated superstructures from staging areas to replace the current superstructures.
Baker said the ABC technique improves work zone safety and reduces congestion while decreasing on site construction time.
“We’re here to just do it for one weekend and have it back to normal rapidly,” said Baker.
The closure will begin Friday, June 27 at 9 p.m. and will end Monday, June 30 at 5 a.m. Marion Avenue will be closed June 27 at 5 p.m. through June 30 at 5 a.m. The Southington Rest Area will remain close from June 27, 9 a.m. through June 30 at 5 a.m. On June 30, all lanes on east and westbound sides of I-84 will reopen with all bridges replaced.
“The Southington Rest area will be used as a command center for the EMS and state police,” said Mohammed Bishtawi, who oversees the construction part of the project.
During the closure, the Traffic Management Unified Command Center will be on site to constantly monitor and control traffic and DOT CHAMP (CT Highway Assistant Motorist Patrol) vehicles will also be there, said Thompson. These vehicles are orange tow trucks which will assist any motorists that break down during peak hours.
“Coordination is absolutely critical,” said Terri Thompson, the supervising engineer of the Office of Construction at ConnDOT.
Thompson said the project also consists of a traffic management plan, which includes regional and local detours, cameras, and message boards to advise traveling public as well as to maintain coordination with adjacent states such as Rhode Island for interstate travel. Thompson said the contractor has provided a contingency plan in case anything goes wrong during the closure, including mechanics, additional equipment parts and services on site for repairs if needed. DOT will also conduct live streaming video, which will include a series of six cameras. Thompson said two of the cameras will be placed on each side of Marion Avenue.
“We wanted to do this because we wanted to give people an opportunity to actually see what’s going on but not to be at the job site,” said Thompson, adding that there will also be cameras on Interstate 6-91.
During the project, travelers will be directed through regional and local detours. Regional detours include alternate routes for I-84 such as I-691, I-91, Route 9 and Route 72. Exit 30 ramps will be used to move one lane of I-84 east and westbound traffic through the closure area. There will be no access to Marion Avenue from Exit 30. Regional detour strategies include the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology to help motorists through detours and to keep them informed through message boards, advisory radio and message boards.
For local detours, traffic traveling from points west of interchange will be directed to Mount Vernon Road or Diana Road, where local police will be monitoring those two areas.
Traffic traveling from all other directions will be detoured onto Route 229, West Street, Route 10, and West Main Street. There will be no access from Atwater Street to Marion Avenue.
During the construction process, utility services will not be disrupted, said Thompson. Residents will receive response from fire and police officials in the case of an emergency. Residents within the local detour will be notified via mailer by Southington Police, and an emergency parking ban will take effect in their neighborhoods to support the detour in order to keep the roadways clear of vehicles. Local businesses in and around the detour have received notice of the closure. Southington police will close the Linear Trail crossing on West Main Street.
For more information, visit ConnDOT’s construction project website, http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=1410&Q=540394&PM=1.
Friday, June 27
*9 a.m: Southington Rest Area, I-84 East closed
*5 p.m. to 9 p.m: I-84 Exit 30 off and on ramps closed; Marion Avenue closed at ramps
*6 p.m: One lane taken on I-84 East at Exit 27 (I-691)
*7 p.m: One lane taken on I-84 West at Exit 31 (Rt. 229)
*8 p.m: Two lanes taken on I-84 East at Exit 27 and I-84 West at Exit 31 with one travel lane open
*9 p.m: I-84 and Exit 29 on and off ramps at Route 10 closed. One lane of I-84 traffic off at Exit 30.
*Monday, June 30: All lanes on east and westbound sides of I-84 reopen