Each new bridge will also include breakdown lanes, and Kezer said once the project is complete, the extra breakdown lane will be converted into a multi-use path. That path is expected to link the various bike trails in Amesbury, Salisbury and Newburyport into a completed network that connects the local communities.
It will also be the first time in Massachusetts history that a bike/pedestrian path has been installed on an interstate bridge.
In addition to the main Whittier Bridge reconstruction, the project also encompasses the rehabilitation of numerous other bridges and the widening of portions of Interstate 95 between exit 57 and exit 60.
The deceleration lanes at exits 58 and 60 will also be modified so motorists will be able to enter the off ramp at a higher rate of speed, allowing more time to slow down. Design speeds at Exit 58 northbound to Route 110 east and Exit 60 northbound to Toll Road east will be boosted from 25 to 35 miles per hour, and Exit 58 northbound to Route 110 west will go from 20 to 25 miles per hour.
Kezer said the city wasn’t provided details surrounding the specific timelines of when each phase of the project would be done, only that the whole thing should take about three years.
The Whittier Bridge/I-95 Improvement Project is one of five Accelerated Bridge Program projects known as “mega projects” by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. It is the only project in the state to have been designated as a presidential priority by President Barack Obama.
In February, the MassDOT announced that the project had been awarded to the joint venture of Walsh/McCourt for $292,155,280. The project is being paid for entirely with federal funds.