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Major I-91 bridge project kicks off Monday - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Major I-91 bridge project kicks off Monday

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ROCKINGHAM, Vt. -

The days for two bridges on Interstate 91 are numbered.

"It's a large project especially for Vermont," said Ann Gammell, the VTrans construction manager. "We don't typically do them of this magnitude."

Work to demolish and replace the north and southbound spans over the Williams River in Rockingham is getting underway. They were built in the 1960s and now are considered in poor condition. The massive concrete piers need to be replaced. And there are concerns about deteriorating gusset plates that tie sections of the bridge together.

The same type of gusset plates were blamed for the collapse of a similarly designed bridge in Minneapolis 10 years ago. Thirteen people died.

VTrans says this $44 million replacement project will take three years, even with designers and contractors working together at the same time to speed up the process.

"It is a long project but compared to traditionally, if we had done this through a traditional design, bid, build-type of contracting method, it would have taken probably twice as long," Gammell said.

So what does this mean for drivers? Starting Monday the Exit 6 northbound ramp will be closed and drivers diverted to Route 5. That's so crews can build crossovers. Those crossover pathways will open in two weeks. Traffic on 91 will be down to one lane in each direction. And it will be like that till both bridges are done in 2020.

Narrowing travel to one lane in each direction will slow traffic down. VTrans says it's going to have a "smart zone" work site which will track how heavy traffic is and that will send alerts to road signs to let drivers know what to expect.

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