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Bridge Replacement Project To Begin on I-91 in Windsor

Preparation begins for work on the Interstate 91 bridges over Route 44 in Windsor yesterday. The two-year project kicks off April 15. (Valley News - Libby March)

Preparation begins for work on the Interstate 91 bridges over Route 44 in Windsor yesterday. The two-year project kicks off April 15. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

Windsor — Motorists who travel Interstate 91 in Windsor will likely be experiencing slowdowns as the highway is diverted and narrows into a single lane in each direction as construction begins this month to replace the bridge that crosses Route 44.

The bridge, which was built as part of the original highway construction project between 1958 and 1965, has passed its design life of 50 years, a spokesman for the project’s general contractor, Lane Construction, said.

The $20.6 million project is being paid for by 90 percent federal funds and a 10 percent state match.

Bridge replacement will take place over two construction seasons with the southbound span being replaced this year and the northbound bridge in 2014.

Closure of the southbound lanes of the interstate will probably begin at the end of this month, according to spokesman Elliot Bent.

“Right now, they are doing initial construction, but they are not doing anything to disrupt traffic,” Bent said yesterday.

“The lane shift will begin around the last week of April.”

To prepare for removal of the old bridge and construction of the new one, the northbound side will be configured to handle single lane traffic in both directions. That configuration will last until November. Though traffic will be slower and motorists can expect delays, the interstate will not be closed.

When the bridge is dismantled, Route 44 will be closed between seven and 10 days in May, Bent said, adding that the state will not allow it to be closed any longer.

Motorists will be directed to detours on Route 44A and Route 5, though trucks will have a different route.

In August, when the new span is constructed, Route 44 will again be closed for up to 10 days. Construction work will be done between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The new bridge will be made from pre-stressed concrete with a design life of 100 years.

Next year, the northbound bridge will be replaced and the project will follow a similar construction schedule.

Bent said the bridge, which is about 80 feet above Route 44, will span 673 feet from abutment to abutment.

Demolition will include both the deck and the existing concrete supports down to ground elevation.

The construction schedule could be altered, Bent said, based on weather.

To obtain information on the project, along with up-to-the minute news on closures and delays, motorists can consult www.511vt.com or call 511. KSE’s twitter feed, http://twitter.com/build91windsor, will also have information.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.