HAVERHILL — As Mother Nature smiles on them, workers building the new Groveland Bridge are making strong progress on the project.
Construction is nearly 40 percent complete, according to Michael Verseckes, spokesman for MassDOT. In August, MassDOT said the project was about 20 percent complete.
The $49.7 million project is expected to be completed by June 2014. It is being built 60 feet down river from the existing bridge, which is still open to traffic.
"We won't be able to truly measure any time savings until the project is further along," Verseckes said of the effect of the mild winter on the final timetable.
Officially known as the Congressman William Bates Bridge, the span is a critical link between Haverhill and Groveland. The bridge crosses the Merrimack River, connecting Haverhill's Riverside area with Groveland Square, and is used each day by thousands of motorists who travel routes 97 and 113.
Traffic continues to flow across the existing Groveland Bridge, which will be demolished once the new bridge is in use.
Verseckes said the majority of the construction work continues to be staged from two working barges that are in place to support heavy construction. He said work continues on construction of the bridge's fender system, which will prevent vessels from coming into contact with parts of the new bridge or construction equipment that is in or on the water.
The new span will be supported by four piers, which are in the process of being built.
"There are concrete elements being installed as part of the construction of three of the four piers," Verseckes said, noting that work on the fourth pier is further along.
Overhead and underground utility relocation work continues on the Groveland side of the project along Main Street.
The new structure will have a movable span similar to the one that's part of the current bridge, built nearly 100 years ago.
In addition to the 775-foot-long bridge, the project includes reconstruction of roadways in Haverhill and Groveland that lead traffic to the bridge. That road work extends about 500 feet beyond the bridge in Haverhill and 300 feet in Groveland, according to MassDOT.
The project also calls for traffic signal improvements at the intersection of Groveland Street with Lincoln Avenue in Haverhill and at Main Street near Elm Park in Groveland.
Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield, Maine, is the bridge contractor. The company has built many bridges, including spans in Bangor, Maine, and New Haven, Conn.,
Construction on the bridge began more than a year ago. The project is being paid for by the state and federal governments.