By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — The president of the Concord company building new highway bridges on Interstate 93 in Windham said cold weather slowed overnight construction this week, which pushed detours into the Tuesday morning commute.
“We believe the cold temperatures played a big factor,” E.D. Swett Inc. President Jonathan Pitre said yesterday.
Work slated to go from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. went six hours past schedule Tuesday, smack into the morning commute, and prompted complaints to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and Windham police.
E.D. Swett is the general contractor on the $11.5 million project.
Crews this week are installing structural steel for a new I-93 south bridge over Route 111.
The work is requiring closure of the road and detours for safety.
Pitre said it is a difficult bridge to build, one that’s hard on equipment and challenging for workers. About 20 workers and supervisors are on the job.
Ideally, the steel would be installed during 60-degree weather in the daytime, Pitre said.
E.D. Swett had planned to do so in October, but delivery was delayed by the supplier, he said.
Twice weather had interfered. A winter storm forced postponement Christmas week, and so did the cold snap last week.
Although it was warmer overnight Monday, weather still posed problems.
“Our air impact guns didn’t work well and we had to switch over to electric,” Pitre said.
Working with the extra long, curved girders needed on the project also is a challenge, he said.
“This bridge is very high.” he said.
Once more girders are in place, the work becomes easier as crews are able to brace them.
“We think we’ve resolved the problem,” Pitre said.
He expects commuters won’t see trouble again.
“We will not have a recurrence of that problem,” Pitre said.
New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton acknowledged the work went on longer than it should and said transportation officials were working with the contractor to take steps so it wouldn’t happen again.
He characterized Swett as a good contractor that hasn’t caused problems for DOT.
Work resumed last night and is expected to continue tonight and tomorrow night.
E.D. Swett also is building a new bridge over Route 111A. The project is scheduled for completion this fall.