State plans to replace Red Line bridge next year on Clayton Street

By 
Melissa Tabeek, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 19, 2012

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will host a public meeting on Jan. 30 to discuss reconstruction plans for a bridge that carries the Dorchester leg of the Red Line over Clayton Street near Fields Corner.  The span is set to be replaced in 2013.

The meeting will be held at Leahy-Halloran Community Center, 1 Worrell St. from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Clayton Street Bridge, constructed in 1911, has a number of unresolved maintenance issues ranging from an inadequate vertical clearance and steel corrosion to steel piers that need to be eliminated to ensure better reinforcement of the bridge.  

MassDOT spokesperson Mike Verseckes said that proactively replacing of the 100-year old bridge is best for limiting the impact of construction on the community.

“The bridge is old and an impractical use of space and technology. It’s approaching the end of its useful life and we want to plan for it now and replace it when we can rather than have it too far gone and have to replace it immediately,” said Verseckes.

The replacement bridge will be constructed separately on an adjacent piece of land then swung into place by a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT), akin to a giant forklift.  Although the construction will happen over a longer period of time, the actual demolition of the old bridge and replacement of the new bridge will happen over the course of a few around-the-clock days over a long weekend.  

Verseckes said that there will be some closures, but it will be a “bare minimum.” During pre-bridge replacement work, there will be one weekend closing of Clayton Street and three consecutive weekend closures of the Red Line on dates not yet determined.  The demolition and replacement of the bridge is tentatively scheduled for either Labor Day or Columbus Day weekend 2013, when the Red Line will be closed.  

For that week, both Clayton Street and nearby Dickens Street would be closed to traffic for four days.  For all Red Line closures, bus service will replace T service between Ashmont and JFK, said Verseckes.
By doing the bulk of the construction on a piece of land in the immediate vicinity rather than having to implement lane closures, there is a minimum disturbance on the average T customer, commuters and neighbors, said Verseckes.

The first “Heavy Lift” replacement project was done in Oct. 2010 in Phillipston, Mass.  MassDOT was able to complete the demolition and replacement of the Phillipston Route 2 Bridge with a disruption of traffic of less than five days.  The project has been done one other time for Cedar Street Bridge in Wellesley, Mass. Both projects caused minimal disruption to residents and commuters, said Verseckes.      
MassDOT plans to work with the MBTA to engage with the community over the course of the next year to ensure that those that will be affected by the construction can have their voices heard.  

“We want to have the chance to have public outreach, control traffic and build a constituency that we would want to keep informed,” said Verseckes.