By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — State transportation officials will hold a public hearing tonight to discuss replacing one of Andover’s busiest bridges.
The state’s Department of Transportation is preparing extensive work on the town’s North Main Street bridge, carrying Route 28 over MBTA railroad tracks by Railroad Street. The bridge, built in 1929, connects downtown Andover to Shawsheen Plaza.
The hearing for the project will be held tonight at the Memorial Hall Library, 2 North Main Street, at 7 p.m.
The project is expected to cost around $5 million, according to Mike Verseckes, spokesman for the state’s Department of Transportation. After more than six years of planning, construction could start next summer.
The hearing “is our chance to reach out to the community and say, ‘Hey, here’s our plans,’ and solicit questions and feedback, and incorporate some of that feedback into what we’ve got,” Verseckes said.
The project involves replacing the superstructure of the bridge, the steel and concrete below the bridge’s paved road surface and parts of the substructure holding the bridge up. Through the work, the bridge will also be raised to accommodate today’s modern train requirements. How long construction would take isn’t yet known.
As the project has gone through design work, how traffic would be impacted by the construction has been a frequent concern.
Because of that, the state is committing to keeping two lanes of travel open on the bridge throughout construction. How that will be done isn’t yet clear, Verseckes said.
“In all likelihood, the lane widths will be reduced to provide for two lanes of travel,” he said. “That’s our commitment, to ensure that at least the bridge is accessible heading in both directions.”