AMESBURY — A busy section of Route 110, a vital link connecting the city to Interstate 95 and Salisbury, will be closed overnight for almost a week starting Sunday to allow work crews space to demolish a portion of a highway bridge at the Amesbury/Salisbury line.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials announced that beginning Sunday and ending March 7, Route 110 will be closed to traffic along a half-mile stretch at its intersection with I-95 each night from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning. Specifically, Route 110 will be closed between the Clarks Road/Elm Street intersection in Amesbury and the Merrill Street/Rabbit Road intersection in Salisbury. With motorists seeking alternative routes it will likely result in increased traffic in other areas of not only Amesbury and Salisbury but Newburyport as well, according to police.
The detour is necessary to demolish the existing bridge barrier and construct new portions of the bridge deck to widen it toward the median. The widening will accommodate future traffic shifts needed for construction staging, according to MassDOT.
On an average day, approximately 19,216 vehicles travel along Route 110. Of those, 10,198 travel eastbound and approximately 9,018 travel westbound, according to MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes, who added that Amesbury police will be handling traffic detours during the operation.
Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler predicted that the closures would result in increased traffic around the plains area of town near Main Street and across the Hines Bridge, which links Amesbury to Newburyport via the Chain Bridge.
“It may pose a challenge to people who want to get around, but hopefully being off-peak hours, it won’t be too bad,” Fowler said.
Fowler and Amesbury police Lt. Jeffrey Worthen said that the closures would not affect mutual aid agreements between the towns, but Worthen said it might take Amesbury units a little longer getting to Salisbury and vice versa.
MassDOT also announced that the two left lanes of I-95 northbound and southbound at the bridge will be closed to accommodate the work. Lane closures will begin at 8 p.m. and continue through the night. Work is subject to cancellation without notice due to inclement weather, meaning that closures could extend well into March should stormy weather continue to pummel the region.
The work is part of the $292 million design and build project to replace the iconic six-lane Whittier Memorial Bridge and replace it with a new bridge containing eight vehicle lanes and a shared-use path for bicycle and pedestrian use. The project also includes refurbishing and replacing nearby bridges. It is one of five “mega” projects in the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges.
The northbound section of the new bridge spanning the Merrimack River is due to be completed by November. Once completed, both directions of traffic will be re-routed on the northbound side while work begins on the southbound side. The new bridge will actually consist of two spans, one for southbound traffic and one for northbound traffic and a bike/pedestrian walkway, replacing the current one-span that handles traffic in both directions.
According to MassDOT, the project is proceeding on schedule, with most of the work due to be completed by August 2016. The project is slated to be officially completed by October 2016.
Highway officials are urging motorists to avoid the area during construction but those traveling should expect delays.
Detours are as followed:
Eastbound traffic will be detoured using I-95 southbound to Exit 57 (Route 113) to reach I-95 northbound and Exit 58A for Route 110 eastbound.
Westbound traffic will be detoured using I-95 northbound to Exit 60 (Route 286) to reach I-95 southbound and Exit 58 for Route 110 westbound.