On June 19, 2013, the MassDOT Board of Directors approved the award of a $197 million design/build contract to Barletta Heavy/O&G Joint Venture to complete the Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project. The design team is being led by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc (VHB).
The Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project is one of the five largest projects of the $3 billion effort to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts.
Safety, access and aesthetics near the City Pier area of Fall River will be improved when the project removes the Route 79 viaduct, a 1960s bi-level structure in serious disrepair, and replaces it with a new surface roadway that combines Route 79 and Davol Street.
In addition, the nine "spaghetti ramps" connecting Route 79 and I-195 will be rebuilt and two new roadways — Water Street Connector and Milliken Connector — will improve local connections to the waterfront and I-195. Pedestrian and bicycle safety will also be enhanced through the addition of three signalized intersections on Route 79, wider sidewalks, bike lanes and a shared-use path.
Finally, structural steel repairs, cleaning and painting of the iconic Braga Bridge over the Taunton River will improve the bridge’s structural integrity and appearance. To learn more about the project phasing, please review the following animation.
The interchange improvement is a design/build project, which means that final design elements will be completed in packages that will be released for construction as they are reviewed and approved by MassDOT. Design/Build allows construction to begin almost immediately on critical elements of the project. MassDOT will schedule periodic public meetings prior to major construction milestones and traffic pattern shifts. A 75% design public hearing will also be scheduled to gather public input before final design is completed. Updates, advisories and meeting notices will be distributed via MassDOT’s e-blast system, which includes local and regional press outlets and social media platforms. Information materials will be made available in Spanish and Portuguese.
MassDOT understands the importance of minimizing construction impacts and maintaining access to the waterfront for residents, businesses and visitors to Fall River. The traffic management plan will provide local and regional signage to alert drivers to changes in traffic patterns. Traffic will be monitored on local roadways to reduce impacts on the communities and local businesses. Signs will indicate that businesses are open during construction. Access to waterfront area businesses and key attractions will be maintained at all times, including Heritage State Park, Battleship Cove, Gates of the City, and Community Boating. MassDOT and the D/B team will also work with the Town of Somerset to minimize impacts related to the Braga Bridge repairs.