Even in a part of the country where bumpy roads and potholes seem to come with the territory, you don’t expect a rough ride on a newly-repaved highway.
The problem spot in question: I-93.
Greg from Arlington Declared his Curiosity:
“I’m curious why I-93 north of Boston doesn’t seem to be completely repaved? The state started the project but, on three bridges in Medford, the bumps are terrible.”
And it’s true. As thousands of commuters cross this stretch of smooth highway each day they suddenly hit patches that, not only didn’t get repaved with the rest of the highway, but have been ground down to a bumpy mess for months.
“I’m just curious,” said commuter Jason Brown, “what do we have to pay to get smooth roads and nice highways?”
That’s a good question that we took to Frank Tramontozzi, chief engineer for the Department of Transportation. We asked him what many of our viewers have been asking: why not get the whole paving project done at once?
“If you wanted to do it all at the same time, then we would have to stop doing the road way surface at each bridge until the bridge was completed first,” he explained.
On the surface it might look like a simple paving problem, but highway officials say it’s more about what lies beneath. The bridges in question have been ignored for a while and when you pull up the asphalt, it’s ugly.
“The bridges, in many instances, are in worse shape than we thought they’d be,” Tramontozzi said. “We find that the concrete on the bridges is deteriorated to the point where it needs to be replaced.”
Resource: Current Mass Highway & Bridge Projects
In fact those bridges on I-93 in Medford are so bad that the work could not be finished before winter. So, the project was suspended and it will take about a year for the bridges to get their makeover.
Despite what it may look like, Tramontozzi says the I-93 paving project is actually on schedule and on budget, for now. He does, however, understand drivers’ frustration.
“So aren’t we frustrated,” he said, “that the bridges are in such disrepair because of the neglect over numbers of years.”
A $3 billion state bridge program and some federal stimulus money should fix the problem. Until then, cross that bridge when you come to it, but be sure to hold onto your coffee.
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