SOUTHINGTON — The replacement of two bridges on Interstate 84 went so smoothly this weekend that the highway reopened 10 hours earlier than expected.
State Department of Transportation Spokesman Kevin Nursick said Sunday afternoon the department was “very, very pleased with the progress, quality of work, and low traffic levels” during the replacement of two highway bridges over Marion Avenue.
Both sides of the highway were shut at Exit 30 starting Friday as the eastbound and westbound bridges were demolished. Marion Avenue was also shut to allow highway traffic to detour around exit ramps and back on to the highway.
The eastbound side reopened at 4:30 p.m., and the westbound side between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, 10 hours ahead of schedule.
The replacement project involved building a replacement bridge next to the highway, then wheeling it into place and installing it over the weekend. This method enabled the bridges to be replaced in days rather than weeks or months, but required shutting down the highway completely.
A live construction camera set up along the highway showed crews cutting a ribbon atop the bridge along the eastbound side of the highway just before 4 p.m. Sunday.
“A lot was riding on this project getting done without any problems and with very little inconvenience to the nearly 85,000-plus people that travel on this portion of I-84 every day,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy Sunday afternoon in a press release.
Southington police officers were posted around the clock to direct traffic through the detours. Master Sgt. Jason Watson said Sunday afternoon that “everything is running smoothly,” and he did not anticipate any issues Sunday night or Monday morning.
“The only way this could have been better is if we had a genie who could grant three wishes, and we could have just wished the bridges were already replaced,” Nursick joked. “It’s been literally as smooth as we could have imagined.”
By late Sunday afternoon, both bridges had been wheeled into place, and crews were waiting for new asphalt to set up on the eastbound side before they could finish line striping, while paving had begun on the westbound side.
In the press release, DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said, “I’m happy to say that this major project, using ABC (Accelerated Bridge Construction) technologies, has been a phenomenal success.”
“I think it was a combination of plenty of planning on our side, and the full cooperation of the motoring public and Mother Nature,” Nursick said of the project’s early completion.
Additionally, Nursick he didn’t anticipate any bottleneck scenario or other traffic problems in reopening the highway. “It’s an orderly process, so I don’t see there being any issues.”
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