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MassDOT announces plans for Memorial Avenue rotary

Date: 12/5/2014

WEST SPRINGFIELD – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that construction on the Memorial Avenue rotary is set to begin in May of 2015 and will be completed before the Big E opens on Sep. 18, 2015.

Bob Penfield, the design manager from VHB Inc., presented the 75 percent complete design plans at a public information meeting on Dec. 2, with the MassDOT Project Manager Alex Murray.    

The Memorial Avenue Rotary Repair Project has targeted the both rotary bridges, and while they are both safe to drive on, the westbound bridge is in “serious condition,” according to Penfield.
Because this project is part of MassDOT’s Accelerated Bridge Program, the construction and replacement of the superstructures will take place over two long weekends, rather than an extended period of time. The eastbound bridge construction will take place from May 29 to June 2 and the westbound bridge June 19 to 23, provided there is acclimate weather.

The construction will run for 79 straight hours, from 10 p.m. on Friday to 1 a.m. on Tuesday on both weekends.

Along with making the bridge safer to drive and more aesthetically pleasing, a goal of the project has been to make it manageable in a “highly traveled area,” according to Penfield.
The Accelerated Bridge Project allows for parts of the bridge to be prepared ahead of construction, allowing them to be placed quicker.

“What was decided was that this bridge was a great candidate for using Accelerated Bridge technology, so what that means is that we’ll be avoiding that typical staged construction process where you have one lane of travel and inconvenience for a longer period of time,” Penfield said.

In addition to increasing structural stability, Penfield said that pedestrian accessibility and safety has been integrated into the design. The sidewalks will be widened and railings along the bridge will protect them. Flashing pedestrian beacons will also be added to the rotary in attempts to make it safer for the heavy foot traffic brought up at the 25 percent design public hearing in October 2013.

Aesthetic improvements include ornamental railings and lighting that will more closely match that of the Memorial Bridge and rotary landscaping, which the town will be responsible for maintaining once construction is complete.

Gerard Kiernan, the Eastern States Exposition director of operations, was one of the citizens present at the public hearing and said that these aesthetic improvements will only help shape the first impression of West Springfield for the people who travel from across New England for the Big E in September.

“I’m very excited about this project. I think it’s great,” Kiernan said. “I’m really happy that the city’s fast-tracking this. I think it’s very important to the city of West Springfield and it’s going to be a great enhancement.”

Penfield said that despite the announcement of other major projects in the area that the Memorial Avenue Rotary Repair Project would not be disrupted by the construction on the Springfield I-91 Viaduct and the MGM Casino. He also said that the Fourth of July fireworks that are shot off of the Memorial Bridge will not be disrupted.

For more information about the project, go to