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Published: August 26, 2008 03:57 am ShareThisPrintThis
Giant beams damaged at Route 1A bridge
By Victor Tine
Staff writer

NEWBURY - Two of the steel-and-concrete beams for the reconstruction of the Route 1A bridge failed a state safety inspection last week, which means a delay in the installation, but Massachusetts Highway Department officials are optimistic the completion date won't be affected.
Adam Hurtubise of MassHighway said one of the 120-foot-long beams was damaged in loading and another in an accident. The damage was severe enough for the beams to be remanufactured, a process Hurtibise will set the installation back about three weeks.
But because time for contingencies is built into the construction schedule, he said the final completion date should remain the same. The general contractor, S&R Corp. of Lowell, has been working on an accelerated schedule. Local and state officials have been expressing hopes that the bridge could reopen as soon as late spring. It was not immediately clear what effect the damaged beams will have on that shorter timetable.
The beams - 28 in all ¬­- are being manufactured and transported by J.P. Carrara & Sons of Middlebury, Vt. They are made of steel-reinforced precast concrete.
The beams weigh more than 60 tons each, too heavy to use the Whittier Bridge over the Merrimack River on Interstate 95.
The first four beams arrived at the work site on Aug. 14, taking a roundabout route to avoid the Whittier Bridge.
The Route 1A bridge has been closed since Sept. 27 for what was estimated to be a two-year replacement project.
Plans originally called for one lane of the two-lane bridge to be kept open during construction, but MassHighway inspectors found severe deterioration of the span in early 2007. Traffic was reduced to one lane in the center of the 1930-vintage bridge, regulated by a light.
The complete shutdown has created economic hardship for a number of businesses in both Newbury and Rowley that depend on Route 1A traffic for customers.
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