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For Immediate Release: 08/08/2013
CONTACT: MassDOT Press Office: 857-368-8500

Patrick Administration Celebrates Groundbreaking for the I-95 Whittier Bridge Project in Salisbury, Newburyport and Amesbury

Signature Accelerated Bridge Program “Mega” Project includes 1st Shared Use Path on a Massachusetts Interstate

BOSTON-Thursday, August 8, 2013- Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Davey today joined federal, state, and local officials to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the Patrick Administration’s Whittier Bridge Project on Interstate 95 in Salisbury, Newburyport and Amesbury.

The $292 million project is one of five “mega” projects in the historic Accelerated Bridge Program to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges.  The design-build project will replace the existing 57-year old six-lane bridge over the Merrimack River with a new eight-lane structure that will also include bicycle and pedestrian lanes.  The project will create or sustain approximately 400 direct construction jobs and 1,000 associated indirect jobs.

“The Whittier Bridge replacement project shows what we can accomplish when we invest in our transportation infrastructure,” said Governor Patrick. “Through the Accelerated Bridge Program, we are building for the next generation while creating economic opportunity and hundreds of jobs in the process.”

“The Whittier Bridge project is an example of President Obama’s call to invest in our infrastructure in order to create jobs and help businesses grow.” said FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez.  “Through innovations, such as the Accelerated Bridge Program and design-build, the citizens of Massachusetts will experience the benefits much faster than in the past.”

“The Governor’s Accelerated Bridge Program along with our other road and bridge investments have begun to reverse the decline in our transportation assets,” says Secretary Davey. “At the same time, the Whittier design-build contract is the latest example of our focus on completing more projects on a streamlined and ambitious schedule.”

The Whittier Bridge is one of just 14 infrastructure projects nationwide selected by the Obama Administration for an expedited permitting and environmental review process designed to move projects as quickly as possible from concept to construction and completion.

The project includes the first shared use path along a Massachusetts interstate with pedestrian overlooks across the Merrimack River.

The new structure will have four travel lanes, a high-speed shoulder and a breakdown lane in each direction. The project also includes the replacement or reconstruction of four adjacent bridges along I-95 in Amesbury and Newburyport.

Construction of the new Whittier Bridge will take place in phases. A minimum of three lanes in each direction will be maintained at all times during the peak traffic hours. 

The $292 million design/build contract was awarded to the joint venture team of Walsh-McCourt JV1. Preliminary work is underway. Construction is expected to begin in early fall with completion scheduled for late 2016. 

“That this project will create an estimated 400 direct jobs and about 1,000 indirect jobs is certainly great news and an emphasis on much-needed infrastructure projects such as the Whittier Bridge project is exactly what our economy needs at this time. I am proud to have worked with state and local colleagues to successfully add the Whittier Bridge Project to the Accelerated Bridge Program,” Congressman John Tierney said. “When all levels of government join together to invest in our communities, we help create jobs, strengthen our state and make our infrastructure safer for local families.”

"Our region is fortunate to have been included in the Governor's Accelerated Bridge Program,” said Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives. “The construction of a new Whittier Bridge will not only resolve structural concerns, but also includes engineering and design improvements that will result in better traffic flow. I appreciate as well that MassDOT aims to strategically undertake this project so that drivers are impacted as minimally as possible during construction."

“The John Greenleaf Whittier Bridge was built as part of the Eisenhower interstate system almost 60 years ago and since that time has provided an important economic engine for not only the Merrimack Valley but also the entire Commonwealth. With this new design and expansion, I look forward to the bridge being a vital transportation thoroughfare for the next 60 years and more,” said Representative Michael Costello. “The new shared-use path with bicycle and pedestrian lanes demonstrates the innovative ways we are addressing our transportation system as a whole and should be an important part of eco-tourism for the entire region. I want to thank the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for the extensive community outreach it has done for this project, particularly around the bridge design. I think this collaboration is evident in the final plans, and I am excited about today’s groundbreaking.”      

“We are very pleased that the Whittier Bridge has been selected as a high priority bridge replacement project by the State and Federal administration,” said Donna Holaday, Mayor, Newburyport.  “Leaders of Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury partnered with MassDOT to create the Whittier Bridge Working Group where we held ongoing meetings over the past several years to represent our community interests.  We successfully negotiated for the first shared used path that will provide a much needed connection for the rail trails of Newburyport, Salisbury and Amesbury.  Communication with the public during this extensive multi-year project is critical and I am confident that MassDOT and Walsh/McCourt will continue to be solid  and responsive partners.” 

"The Whittier Bridge project is a shining example of the partnership between the federal, state, and local governments resulting in investment in this key economic corridor, improved regional highway infrastructure, and a unique alternate-use path connecting the three communities,” said Amesbury Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III.

The Whittier Bridge Project is one of five “mega projects” in the Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP).  Other projects include the Fore River Bridge Project in Quincy-Weymouth, Burns Bridge Project in Shrewsbury-Worcester, Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project, and the Fall River/I-195 Improvement Project.

As a result of the ABP program, since 2008 the number of structurally deficient bridges has declined by 19%, from 543 to 440.  

The current John Greenleaf Whittier Bridge was built in 1951 connecting Newburyport and Amesbury over the Merrimack River. It was named for the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier and replaced the previous Route 1 drawbridge.

For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot and Facebook at www.facebook.com/massdotinfo.

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