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Is Construction On The Tobin Ever Going To End?

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Speaker of the House Tom Finneran

Is Construction On The Tobin Ever Going To End?

Ah, the sounds of summer.

There’s nothing like the soothing symphony of jackhammers to ease the stress of a commute and draw rave reviews from North Shore commuters. “I think it’s terrible. Absolutely terrible. Disgrace,” says Elizabeth Milano of Revere.

“I got a mom, lives on the North Shore. I live in the city. I go over that bridge three or four times a week and it’s a nuisance,” says Jamie Phelan of Dorchester.

If re-decking on the upper level (inbound) of the Tobin is scheduled to be completed next month and the lower level (outbound) by the end of this year, ahead of schedule, why does it seem the bridge, opened to traffic in 1950, is always under construction? “We’re a 60-year-old bridge and that bridge needs a lot of upkeep,” explains Joseph Staub, Deputy Director of the bridge for Massport.

So, why all the lane closures from, say, April to November? “Because we’re a three-lane bridge, with no breakdown lane, we have to phase these projects within the construction season,” says Staub.

It’s a season also bringing joy to commuters on Route 128 between Wellesley and Randolph where, over the next seven years, one lane is being added to each side.

The Longfellow Bridge restoration will span into the year 2014.

The plan for Route 1 improvements in Revere, Malden and Saugus extends into 2012.

Work on Storrow Drive is scheduled for completion next month. But maintaining the two mile long Tobin, largest bridge in New England, is a continual process.

“When people ask me, ‘When’s the next time we won’t have a lane closure on the Tobin?’, I say, ‘Well, probably never,'” admits Staub, who adds that planners try to schedule a lot of construction at night but if they’re not re-decking, they’re re-painting to protect the steel from the salt air and harsh New England winters.

He says, logistically, it’s a nightmare and painful for commuters.

here is hope. The Massport official also says as materials such as concrete and asphalt additives improve, so will their longevity.

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