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Construction delays on Rockland Street Bridge in Wellesley will likely keep bridge closed until December

Posted by Evan Allen  June 27, 2012 04:52 PM

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Construction on Wellesley’s Rockland Street Bridge probably won’t be finished until December, instead of the original September target, according to Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Verseckes.

“We realize it’s frustrating,” he said. “We just can’t put something up overnight if we are not 100 percent comfortable with its ability to carry the weight of live traffic.”

The bridge has been closed to traffic since Jan. 27, and demolition was expected to begin on Feb. 6. The plan was to rebuild a new bridge on the old foundation, and the project, overseen by MassDOT, was expected to cost $1.6 million and be complete in the early fall.

But the original plans for the bridge, which was built in the early 1900’s, did not show the true size of the abutments. The abutments didn’t meet today’s design standards, and so construction was halted while the abutments were redesigned.

Verseckes said that the price tag on the project has risen, but said he did not yet have a figure. He declined to estimate how much the cost has increased.

The project has caused headaches in Wellesley, with residents complaining of congestion caused by the closed bridge.

“Here, we have a situation where the town has been operating with this disruption in traffic for five months for no reason,” said Wellesley resident Richard Golob. “The Chinese can build a 15-story hotel in six days, perhaps we should hire that Chinese construction firm to assist in this situation.”

Wellesley Police Lieutenant Marie Cleary said that the police have done all they can to minimize traffic, including changing traffic signals at intersections where traffic has increased due to the detour, but that their power to fix the situation is limited.

“It’s simply just volume of traffic,” she said. “There’s no place else to move the traffic.”

Construction will resume shortly, said Verseckes, as the abutment problem has been solved. Officials hope to begin demolition in mid-July.

“Our first priority is to get this bridge up,” he said. “We’re gonna work straight on through.”

In the mean time, Wellesley residents will simply have to resign themselves to the Rockland Street Bridge detour.

“I think people are adopting the attitude of ‘grin and bear it,’” said Hans Larsen, Wellesley’s Executive Director.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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