By Seth Daniel
The Winthrop Avenue Bridge construction project not only solved some major transportation problems in Revere when it opened last fall, but also it was one of seven projects statewide to bring home awards from the state’s Engineering Excellence Awards.
The $10.7 million accelerated bridge project one a Bronze Award last week at the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Massachusetts 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards competition in Cambridge.
These seven winning projects were selected for these awards based upon their uniqueness, originality, technical value to the engineering profession, complexity and how successfully they met the needs of the local communities.
This week, Director of Project Management Thomas Donald, D-4 Highway Director Paul Stedman, and D-4 Construction Engineer Bob Maloy said the Winthrop Avenue Bridge award was something they were very proud of.
“It’s a tough competition,” said Donald. “A lot of these jobs were closed down around the same time. It was a nice acknowledgement for a complex job. It did what it was supposed to do and we’re proud to be recognized for it.”
Added Stedman, “It’s also an acknowledgement of the contractors we used. Trans Systems and Barletta were up to the task. We have a great unity with both and it’s an acknowledgement for the designer and the contractor as well as the overall team. It bodes well for all of us.”
The job began last spring, with the overall replacement to include both decks as well as part of the granite foundation superstructure. They also had to drive micro-piles to reinforce the foundation.
The project required two different closures of the road on May 29-June 1 and then on June 5-8 during the first phase. The second phase required more closures on Sept. 18-21 and Sept. 25-28.
Each closure also had to be meticulously planned with the MBTA as train operations under the bridge had to be suspended as well.
“The closures got better as the project went on and we refined and strengthened out construction operations,” Stedman said.
Donald said the Winthrop Avenue Bridge was a great example of something they learned within the entire accelerated bridge program. That was the fact that major closures over a few days with extraordinary communication and outreach worked better than longer closures done in portions.
“That’s the biggest thing that came out of the accelerated bridge program,” he said. “To detour traffic for few days is a big inconvenience, but for a short period of time. We realized that was better than months and months of side-by-side construction.”
Added Stedman, “We had a very close working relationship with Revere and Winthrop and the emergency officials from Police and Fire over there. It was a very big inconvenience for a short period of time. However, if you can set people’s expectations out front that it will be a difficult weekend, they can plan accordingly.”
One of the major challenges, he said, was making sure that traffic to the Revere and Winthrop beaches during those summer months was not impeded.
In the end, MassDOT reported that the project opened in October on time and on budget.