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Commonwealth Avenue Bridge to remain closed past schedule

After a series of last minute delays in construction and bad weather conditions, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced in a press release Saturday the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and the MBTA B branch will remain closed to commuters until the middle of the upcoming week.

Despite projections that construction would remain on track made as recently as Friday, Aug. 11, in the weekend’s wet weather conditions have made it difficult to pour concrete in some areas and it has taken construction crews longer than expected to carry out the final steps of the project, according to the release.

For the next few days construction crews will continue to focus on placing rail and pouring concrete on the eastbound side of the bridge deck, giving them more time to let the concrete cure and to test the rail prior to opening it to the public, according to the release.

Despite the delay, Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said he thought MassDOT and the local community handled the situation well.

“[MassDOT has] been in touch with us quite a bit, maintained good communication, we’re aware of this, and we’ll continue to work as we have for the past nearly three weeks,” Riley said. “I think the community has been very patient and understanding.”

Although impacts to the MBTA B branch and access to local roadways are expected to continue for the next few days, lane closures on the Massachusetts Turnpike have been resolved three weeks ahead of original estimates, with all four lanes of traffic now open to commuters in either direction.

Jonathan Gulliver, the acting highway administrator for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said in an email that modifications made by MassDOT staff to the sequencing of construction allowed them to remove a 440-ton crane that was obstructing traffic on I-90 earlier than anticipated.

Gulliver also recognized the success of the project so far is partly due to the cooperation of local commuters.

“MassDOT is pleased with the hard work of all the crews and contractors involved in this project and is grateful for the cooperation of the local community and traveling public who have detoured or reduced travel,” Gulliver wrote. “The patience of residents and commuters is a large part of why we are continuing to move forward on schedule.”

After the bulk of the project is completed in these final days, Gulliver wrote that construction crews will continue to work on the finishing touches of the bridge, but will not disturb traffic.

“After Monday, August 14, our minor finishing work such as building sidewalks and curbing will take place and will be conducted in ways that do not significantly impact traffic or travel through the area,” Gulliver said in an email.

Another intense period of construction will begin next summer, at which point crews will work on replacing the westbound side of the bridge deck. 

In addition to working on the bridge deck, Gulliver wrote that more safety improvements  for vehicles and pedestrians will be installed in the area including, extended sidewalks, no free right turns for vehicles, and optimized traffic signals that allow bikers and pedestrians to have their own dedicated movement when cars are stopped.

Sabrina Schnur contributed to the reporting of this article.

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