We are right around the corner from the Interstate 91 viaduct construction project that is projected to last roughly 39 months and will likely cause some travel headaches.
The notice to proceed for the contractor to begin is expected to be issued next May 27, according to Richard Masse, highway director for MassDOT District 2.
Work can begin on the I-91 viaduct construction project as soon as the notice is issued to proceed.
On Thursday night, members from MassDOT met with members of the Armory Quadrangle Civic Association in Springfield to address the details and answer questions.
"I think the main concern is the traffic impact and basic traffic management strategy here is to reduce I-91 in both directions by one lane," Masse said.
Therefore, in multiple areas of Interstate 91, traffic will be taken from three lanes and compressed down to two lanes, which leaves a road that stretches alongside I-91 as an alternate.
"We'll be basically be using East Columbus Ave. and West Columbus Ave. as alternatives to being on the highway through the Springfield area," Masse said.
Residents in attendance gasped when the attached map went up on the projector. It showed closures of major downtown exits for Union Street, State Street, and Columbus Avenue at the I-91/I-291 interchange and an exit to Memorial Drive will all be shut down for the duration of the project.
Commuters should expect temporary traffic lights, signs throughout the downtown area and on I-291 to assist motorists and a temporary ramp near Bernie Avenue to re-route traffic.
Douglas Johnson, a Springfield resident, says he has a relatively short commute to work.
"It's a five minute drive there I'm not expecting any problems,” he said. "So if they could improve the traffic flow at the same time and make repairs it should be a big improvement"
While viaduct construction took center stage, there will be multiple projects surrounding it.
For those concerned with the traffic delays MassDOT plans to have message signs on the interstates with estimated travel times along with real time traffic information on social media pages and on the radio.
MassDOT officials recommend carpooling or taking other routes during the project.
"We've been making repairs to Route 5 including in the tunnel to make that corridor a better ride while this project is underway," Masse said.
MassDOT representatives told residents Thursday they have met with MGM regarding the two projects being worked on simultaneously.
They vowed to continue those conversations as both progress this summer.
Copyright 2015. Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.