EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 28, 2013

Rotary work delayed months as costs rise

METHUEN — The long-awaited Interstate 93 rotary redesign is behind schedule and may cost millions of dollars more than previous estimates.

Initially slated to begin this fall, construction at the busy rotary connecting I-93 with routes 110 and 113 is now not expected to start until April 2014. The estimated cost of the project has also increased to $77.8 million.

The initial cost estimate for the project was $70 million. The money will come from state and federal taxpayers.

Located in West Methuen, the rotary is considered one of the most dangerous intersections in the region and will be replaced with a “partial cloverleaf” interchange, along with a number of new traffic signals and access ramps.

The traffic-clogged rotary is located at Exit 46 on I-93 and is used by drivers heading to Methuen, Lawrence, Dracut and Lowell — or accessing I-93 headed to New Hampshire or Boston. Officials have said the redesign will improve safety and relieve traffic congestion.

The project was put out to bid Aug. 17. A contractor will be selected around mid-November, according to Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Mike Verseckes.

Construction won’t begin until after the winter. Last January, a DOT spokeswoman estimated that the project would be out to bid in late spring 2013 and that construction would be underway this fall.

Yesterday, Verseckes said the project schedule was delayed when designers decided to add “metalized steel beams” under the I-93 bridge to help reinforce the structure and protect it from corrosion.

“There were some last-minute additions,” said Verseckes. “It’s not the kind of thing we want rushed out the door.”

Once construction starts, the rotary redesign is expected to take three years to complete.

Verseckes said the new $77.8 million price estimate for the project includes a base project cost of $63.2 million. Various contingency budgets totalling $9.7 million represent “a safe offset” that ultimately may not be spent, he said.

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