White/Schiavone JV Replaces Deteriorated Deck of I-91 Springfield Viaduct
Joint venture J.F. White Contracting Company and Schiavone Construction Company LLC is rehabilitating a three-quarter mile viaduct section of I-91 in Springfield for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
MassDOT Highway District 2 is overseeing the three-and-a-half-year, I-91 Viaduct Rehabilitation Project, which is designed to increase safety and accessibility, reduce annual maintenance costs and ensure long-term service for the busy Interstate. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (20 percent) and the Federal Highway Administration (80 percent) are financing the project.
Under its $148 million contract, the White/Schiavone joint venture is replacing the concrete deck, making steel superstructure repairs and repainting the elevated section of I-91, which serves the City of Springfield and the neighboring communities of West Springfield, Agawam, Longmeadow, and East Longmeadow. As the primary north-south route linking Massachusetts with Connecticut and Vermont, I-91 carries extensive vacation traffic from the three states during summer and winter weekends. According to MassDOT, the I-91 viaduct experiences an average daily volume of 75,000 vehicles, with about 90,000 vehicles using the I-91/I-291 interchange each day.
Built in the late 1960s, the viaduct has an 8-inch-thick reinforced concrete deck slab supported by steel girders, a substructure consisting of steel pier caps, reinforced concrete column piers and footings, and piles serving as the foundation. Over the years, the structure has undergone a number of rehabilitation projects, including a partial rehabilitation in 2001 and modifications in 2007 to accommodate riverfront redevelopment associated with the Basketball Hall of Fame. In spite of the updates, however, in recent years work crews have had to increasingly make emergency patches to the deck, resulting in traffic interruptions due to necessary lane closures. Based on the latest inspections, MassDOT declared the deck to be structurally deficient and in need of replacement.
Broad Scope of Work
The I-91 project runs from the middle of the I-291 Interchange on the north to just south of State Street, a local roadway. Rehabilitation of the on- and off-ramps between these limits and the I-291 ramp structures to and from the south are included in this project.
While the completed bridge cross-section is similar to the existing bridge width, with the same number of travel lanes, it has wider left and right shoulders. MassDOT is providing new lighting for the structure, the upper levels of adjacent public garages, and surface streets below the viaduct. White/Schiavone is replacing the entire bridge deck, repairing and painting steel, replacing bridge bearings, and installing a new drainage system.
Other safety improvements are included at the I-291/I-91 interchange, including construction of a barrier to prevent I-291 traffic from weaving across I-91 south to reach Exit 7 leading to the historic Memorial Bridge across the Connecticut River, and downtown Springfield.
The project contract also calls for pavement markings, concrete sidewalks and wheelchair ramps, granite curb, landscaping, and other safety and aesthetic upgrades.
In addition to the bridge and highway improvements within the limits of the viaduct, bridge drainage system enhancements are also underway that will treat highway storm water runoff from the viaduct that currently discharges into the City of Springfield's sewer system. A portion of the new drainage discharges storm water into detention basins on the northern half of the project. These enhancements will help improve water quality in the nearby Connecticut River.
In order for demolition and deck replacement to proceed, the contract's construction schedule calls for a one-lane reduction in the usual number of travel lanes in critical sections. This permits work to proceed on roughly one-half of the roadway width per phase, while providing two travel lanes in each direction to remain open for the duration of the project south of the I-291 interchange. However, within the I-291 interchange area where I-91 currently has two travel lanes in each direction, the southbound side of I-91 is reduced to one lane, the northbound side is generally two lanes. Regional traffic is maintained on the existing viaduct and local traffic is maintained on the surrounding city streets including busy thoroughfares East and West Columbus Avenue and Hall of Fame Avenue.
Traffic mitigation is key to the success of this project, notes MassDOT. During construction, traffic is being managed through a combination of lane closures and shifts to establish safe work zones and commuter travel. This is facilitated by a Real Time Traffic Management system with message boards to inform travelers and reduce congestion by providing live traffic updates. Furthermore, there are traffic monitoring cameras linked to city officials, police details at critical intersections during peak travel periods, traffic alerts for key personnel, highway advisory radio, and quick-acting first-responders for traffic accidents and other emergencies.
Limiting Construction Duration
Engineers designed the viaduct project to reduce the number of traffic stages and limit the duration of construction. For example, deck replacement is taking place in just two major phases, Stages 1 and 2, with preparation and completion activities accompanying each phase.
In Stage 1A, occurring between July 2015 and winter 2015/2016, White-Schiavone repaired the viaduct deck to prepare the two outer lanes of I-91 north and southbound to handle traffic while rehabilitation of the inner lanes took place during Stage 1B. The joint venture also reconfigured local surface roads so they could accommodate anticipated traffic volume increases. Additionally, work crews constructed an extension to a local arterial, West Columbus Avenue, to expedite detour traffic flows, and built a temporary off-ramp from I-91 southbound to carry traffic onto local streets and downtown Springfield.
With Stage 1A completed, crews turned their attention to Stage 1B, which occurred between winter 2015/2016 and late fall 2016. During Stage 1B, the inner travel lanes of I-91 north- and southbound along the median were closed for deck reconstruction. The I-91 north- and southbound traffic was shifted to use areas occupied by the shoulder and outside travel lane. White/Schiavone began demolishing the inner lanes of the viaduct's deck in February 2016, starting with milling off the existing asphalt pavement. The contractor sawcut through steel reinforcing bars then broke up the underlying concrete deck and removed it piece by piece from the I-91 north and southbound decks. Next, crews formed and pumped new concrete for the deck and paved the roadway.
Stage 2 work began in November/December 2016 and was scheduled to extend into spring 2018, with I-91 northbound and southbound traffic being shifted onto the newly built center lanes to enable construction to take place on the low-speed travel lane and shoulder.
According to MassDOT, approximate amounts of some of the materials required for the viaduct rehab are 22,350 cubic yards of concrete for bridge deck, 7 million pounds of reinforcing steel, and 450 bridge bearing replacements.
The Bonus/Penalty Clause
The viaduct contract contains provisions for incentive payments and disincentive deductions of $50,000 per day for up to 180 days, to be applied for early and late completion, respectively, of the Full Beneficial Use milestone. The Full Beneficial Use milestone is August 6, 2018.