WOBURN - A Lawrence construction company will break ground on the Salem Street bridge replacement project this week, when motorists in the area can expect to run into increased traffic due to associated lane closures.

According to Patrick Marvin, a spokesperson for the Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT), commuters on Salem Street will be diverted to a single-lane in locations between Wildwood Avenue and Cedar Street starting Wednesday as crews from Kodiak Corporation begin work on the $4.3 million undertaking.

"This traffic pattern change is necessary in order to allow crews to safety and effectively conduct bridge demolition and reconstruction operations. The work is expected to continue until the fall of 2019," Marvin announced in an advisory circulated to city officials late last week.

"Signs, traffic control devices, and law enforcement details will be used to guide drivers through the work zone. MassDOT encourages drivers to reduce speed and use caution while approaching and traveling through the work zone and to allow for extra time through this area," the MassDOT spokesman added/

Located in East Woburn towards the Washington Street side of Salem Street, the elevated structure is perched over the MBTA commuter rail tracks that run from Anderson Regional Tranportation Center towards Wedgemere Station in Winchester.

The area has already been subject to considerable pre-construction activity in recent months, as public utility companies have been relocating telephone poles and other infrastructure in advance of the work.

First erected back in 1928, the Salem Street Bridge was first identified as in need of replacement by state officials back in 1999. When the construction project was first advertised in the winter of 2017, MassDOT engineers projected the value of the contract at $5.56 million.

According to federal transportation records, as of 2014, an estimated 25,000 commuters crossed the structure annually, and by 2031, that traffic is expected to jump to 47,221 vehicle trips.

A total of eight firms expressed interest in performing the steel work, which also includes associated drainage improvements, the installation of new handicapped-accessible concrete sidewalks, and the remediation of some contaminated construction materials from the original structure.

The drainage improvements is expected to bring some relief to flooding issues on Salem Street, which has proven particularly troublesome during the winter months, when motorists encounter icy road conditions on the bridge.

Bids ranged between $4.3 and $7.23 million, and Kodiak Corporation, which specializes in bridge work, was the low-bidder.

MassDOT officials say the replacement project will be broken into four phases in order to minimize pedestrian and traffic impacts.

"In the first stage, temporary bolt-down concrete barrier will be installed to close the southern portion of the bridge, including sidewalks. One travel lane in each direction will be provided on the northern portion of the bridge, and pedestrian traffic will be rerouted to the north side of the bridge using temporary crosswalks," noted Marvin in MassDOT's travel advisory.

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