Last summer wasn’t a good one for Interstate-93. The bridges not once, but twice created potholes, forcing the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to begin immediate work to repair the damage.
The lane closures near the Medford exit caused long delays and backed up traffic, some of which spilled into Winchester.
The MassDOT will be repairing these deteriorating conditions along 14 locations on I-93. While construction activities officially began in April, the major work, lane closures and crossovers will take place on weekend nights from June until Labor Day.
Beginning on Friday, May 6 at 8 p.m. and ending Saturday, May 7 at 5 a.m., the Massachusetts State Police will be conducting a trial run of the “zipper lane.” The state police will be using this trial run to test the traffic management plan for this summer’s project.
State Traffic Engineer, Neil Boudreau from MassDOT, said that this will be a rapid bridge replacement along I-93 – seven structures on each side will be replaced.
“The decks are in poor condition,” Boudreau said. “The traffic impacts and backups were quite significant last summer as we were out trying to repair the holes in August. And they need to be replaced.”
According to Boudreau, the goal of this “accelerated bridge program” will be to finish the replacement quickly (before the end of the year) and to minimize the impact on travelers. The quality of these new superstructures is expected to last for 75 years.
According to a release from the Massachusetts State Police, this weekend’s trial run will change the highway from four-lanes in each direction to two-lanes in each direction. And on the southbound side, there will be traffic driving in the opposite direction.
“Route 93 directional traffic will be separated by a moveable ‘zipper lane’ barrier throughout the 4.5 mile length of the crossover between Stoneham and Somerville,” the release said. “One local access lane will be provided on the closed section of I-93 northbound to provide access to all of the ramps for Exits 31 through 33.”
The Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts Department of Transportation encourage drivers to allow extra time for their trips and to reduce speed and use caution when travelling through all work zones.
Impact on I-93 Southbound:
- There will only be two lanes of traffic beginning south of Exit 35 (Winchester Highlands/Melrose) to Exit 28 (Sullivan Square).
- All of the southbound entrance and exit ramps on Route 93 between Exit 33 (Roosevelt Circle – Route 28/Fellsway) and Exit 28 (Sullivan Square) will remain open. The entrance ramp from Route 28/Fellsway West in Stoneham to Route 93 southbound will be closed between 8 p.m. Friday, May 6 and 5 a.m. Saturday, May 7.
- Three lanes will be provided on Route 93 southbound just north of Exit 28 (Sullivan Square/ Charlestown) and adjacent to the start of the HOV lane.
Impact on I-93 Northbound
- Traffic on will remain restricted to two travel lanes from north of Exit 29 (Route 28/38 – Somerville/Everett) to north of Exit 33 (Roosevelt Circle – Route 28/Fellsway).
- One lane of local ramp access will be provided on Route 93 northbound to service all of the ramps between Exits 31 (Mystic Valley Parkway/ Arlington) and Exit 33 (Roosevelt Circle – Route 28/Fellsway). Traffic in the local access lane will be restricted to one travel lane. Any traffic entering Route 93 northbound from the on ramps between Exits 31 and 33 will merge back with northbound through traffic exiting the northerly crossover in the area prior to Exit 34 (Route 28 North – Stoneham/Melrose).
- Through traffic travelling north on Route 93 will be restricted to two lanes, which will cross over the median and travel in the southbound side of the highway, separated from the southbound traffic by the movable barrier.