(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
A gateway to Boston from the South Shore, the Neponset River Bridge welcomes commuters by the thousands to the city.
On Thursday afternoon, its reconstruction was officially declared complete by Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials.
Although the DOT still has to add a few more finishing touches to the six-lane bridge, the majority of work has been completed on the $33.7 million project that started February 2010.
“No pain, no gain is what they always say and this project while it got off to a little bit of a difficult start, in the end proved not to be so bad,” Senator Jack Hart told the crowd Thursday, with the bridge as his backdrop. “Hopefully we won’t have to be here for another 50 or 100-years. It’s a great project for the city and it’s a great project for the South Shore.”
Refinishing the roads, adding lighting, replacing expansion joints, and expanding the sidewalks were all part of the project that was slated to end by August 2013, but that end date has been moved up to March 2013, according to the DOT.
The underside of the bridge was repaired between 2006 and 2009 for an estimated $20 million.
“I think in the past people had come to expect from the government and the highway department that projects would go on too long and be over budget, so this is a new day at the DOT,” said Richard Davey, the state’s transportation secretary. “We’re pushing to get projects done more quickly.”
The end of major work on the bridge means the end to the construction induced traffic jams and the cone dividers that cut down lanes and guided drivers.
At Thursday’s ceremony, state and local officials applauded the DOT’s success, highlighting the importance of the bridge to Boston and the South Shore’s economies, and championing the Patrick/Murry Administration’s Accelerated Bridge Program.
“Our transportation infrastructure is the enabling network of our economy, it’s about public safety, it’s about quality of life,” Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray told the crowd Thursday.
Officials from Quincy also highlighted the importance of the bridge to the city’s residents and its connection to other major infrastructure projects happening in the seaside city.
“This is one of the most significant gateways into the city of Quincy and this stands as a shining symbol of what is to come in terms of improving our gateways,” said Quincy City Councilor Kevin Coughlin. “It’s a great day to be here to see this come to its conclusion.”