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On the Trans Blog
Wellesley Route 9 "Heavy Lift" Bridge Project: July 1

MassDOT will begin demolition work on the Cedar Street Bridge over Route 9 in Wellesley on July 1, 2011. This "Heavy Lift" project is being undertaken as part of the Patrick-Murray Accelerated Bridge Program and will replace the entire Cedar Street Bridge in a single weekend.

On Friday, July 1 at 10 PM, MassDOT will close the portion of Route 9 and Cedar Street within the work area, demolish the existing superstructure, and move the new replacement superstructure into place with special remote-controlled machines, all within a 72-hour time period. The replacement superstructure is being built in the work area immediately northeast of the existing bridge and entirely outside of the roadway.

Detours will be in place during the process from July 1, 2011 at 10 PM to July 4, 2011 at 10 PM.

During the weekend work, MassDOT's contractor will provide shuttle service to pedestrians crossing Route 9 via Cedar Street. For more information on the project, please see the project website.

View the complete Route 9 "Heavy Lift" blog post

"Drive Smart and Save"

The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced a new online resource that can help Massachusetts residents and visitors to save money on gas and travel. The “Drive Smart and Save” program offers tips for cost-friendly driving techniques that can save travelers money on fuel expenses, improve fuel economy by up to 33 percent, and help reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Additional ideas for fuel savings can be found on the Drive Smart webpage

View the complete "Drive Smart and Save" blog post

The Road to Reform

MassDOT: Tunnels Maintenance Program

MassDOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Mullan has ordered development of a comprehensive, five-year Capital Maintenance Program (CMP) to coordinate and enhance current ongoing maintenance procedures involving the tunnels of the Metropolitan Highway System in Boston.

MassDOT has secured the services of infrastructure firm HNTB Corporation to develop the CMP by fall 2011, which will identify existing and future expected maintenance needs and estimate the costs necessary to implement solutions that ensure the tunnels remain safe.

The CMP will address coordination of response to recent tunnel issues, including securing and the ultimate replacement of light fixtures, recommendations for the maintenance safety/emergency egress railing, and the ongoing water infiltration mitigation efforts. The plan will also incorporate remaining long-term maintenance items identified in the 2008 Stem-to-Stern Safety Review. To date, over 80 % of the recommendations of the Stem-to-Stern report have been implemented, including all issues identified as of immediate concern. The vast majority of the remaining long-term items do not involve the Central Artery Tunnels. Those items will be incorporated into the CMP.

Following the February 2011 light fixture incident, MassDOT electricians performed hands-on inspections of all tunnel light fixtures while seeking an interim solution to secure the fixtures. A system of straps was identified as an interim solution, and MassDOT maintenance crews have begun installation. Strapping material has been used to secure 350 fixtures to date, with work continuing in all areas of the tunnel system representing 25,000 fixtures under MassDOT control. Installation of the straps is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. The interim system will be subject to ongoing inspection and will secure the light fixtures until a long-term solution is implemented.

The CMP will also include implementation of recommendations regarding the tunnel maintenance safety/emergency egress railing. The April 2011 recommendations, made in cooperation with the State Police and other safety professionals, included a plan to remove the railing at locations where they are not required to meet emergency egress requirements and to retrofit the existing railing with chain link fence mesh fabric along outside curves and other high risk locations determined based on crash data analysis

MassDOT is committed to keeping the public informed about the CMP plan and all ongoing tunnel maintenance efforts on the Tunnel Safety web page.


MassDOT Focus: Cost Savings

by Jeff Mullan, MassDOT Secretary & CEO

Recently, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting undertook a review of the progress we have made since we began implementing transportation reform in 2009. I am glad that they did, and thank them for their review of the information and the record. The most critical outcome of the review is whether transportation reform is on track to save “over $2B” over the next twenty years, as we are currently trending, or “up to $6.4B” as a national financial consultant had estimated was possible prior to the passage of the reform law.

This is a good problem to have – how many billions of dollars are we saving the Commonwealth’s taxpayers, farepayers and tollpayers? For the record, every cent we save is important, and we are proud to have documented such a large savings in just 18 short months. Indeed, the amount we have documented is conservative. Some of the efficiencies that have been created such as the restructuring of our snow and ice program that we estimate has achieved $50 million in savings are more properly characterized “avoided costs.”

The published report also focused on the number of DOT employees. When the merger was announced, we estimated that 300 positions could be eliminated due to administrative duplication. This is a common occurrence in mergers, and we have documented that we have achieved this reduction. However, we never sought to stop investing in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure – and we need people to do that. Thanks in part to the Governor’s historic Accelerated Bridge Program and in part to the Federal stimulus projects, we have grown our highway and transit reinvestment program by over 100% in three short years. Hiring engineers and other professionals to manage these projects has very nearly evened out employee reductions that we achieved by the merger.

When we began to design a new unified transportation organization at the direction of Governor Patrick, we developed four goals against which we would measure our success:

  • To save money
  • To improve customer service
  • To invest in every region of the Commonwealth
  • To improve employee morale and workplace culture

With the support of the legislature, the Governor signed transportation reform into law two years ago and MassDOT saw its first official day on November 1, 2009. Nearly two years later, while we are making progress in fulfilling all of these objectives, we are far from being done implementing the law and all that it represents. We are committed to doing so.

We will continue to work toward saving every bit of money we can, and, as I have told all who will listen, after 18 months it is simply too early to project how much transportation reform will save over the next 18 years. What’s important is that the savings are large regardless of who is counting, that we are working hard to save more money every single day, that we are putting people to work on the front lines rebuilding Commonwealth roads, bridges and transit systems, and that we are making progress on improving our customer service and employee morale.


July 4 Holiday Travel and Transit Service

MassDOT encourages safe travel during the July 4 holiday weekend. Before you drive, check the interactive Traffic Cameras web page for live looks at current traffic.

Drivers may sign up for the 511 traveler information service to receive alerts via email, text or telephone by dialing 511 or logging onto www.mass.gov/511 to register and receive personalized updates. MassDOT reminds drivers to avoid using cell phones while driving and to call into the 511 service before they leave.

As planned, there will be no construction over the July 4th weekend as part of the Medford I-93 "93Fast14" Bridges project. MassDOT also will suspend construction on major state road and bridge projects beginning at Noon on Friday, July 1 through the beginning of regular business hours on Tuesday, July 5. The exception: the Wellesley Cedar Street Bridge over Route 9 "Heavy Lift" project which will replace the entire bridge during the weekend beginning Friday, July 1 at 10 PM to Monday, July 4 at 10 PM. Detours will be in place.

Drivers are reminded of the Massachusetts Safe Driving law and to travel safely and avoid distracted driving such as using cell phones. Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration distracted driving information page. MassDOT will have I-90 toll plazas fully staffed during the holiday weekend to help reduce congestion. The Massachusetts State Police will be stationed along I-90 to ensure drivers slow down and obey posted speed limits on the roadway and at FAST LANE toll plazas.

Free coffee will be served at the 18 MassDOT service plazas from 10 pm Monday, July 4, through 5 am Tuesday morning, July 5. The plazas serving free coffee include 11 service plazas along I-90 plus plazas along Route 3 in Plymouth, Route 128 in Beverly, Route 128/I-95 in Newton and Lexington, Route 6 in Barnstable, and the Route 24 northbound and southbound plazas.

The MBTA is prepared for the July 4 festivities with an increase in service for the thousands of people traveling to and from the Esplanade. Along with more service, bus, subway, and commuter rail fares will not be collected from 10:30 p.m. to the end of service on Monday, July 4. Visit the MBTA Holiday Service web page to learn more.


MassDOT July Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next regular public business meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 1:00pm, MBTA Board Room, Suite 3910, State Transportation Building, Boston.

The MBTA Board will meet first at 1pm, followed by the MassDOT Board. All meetings are open to the public.

The meeting schedule is available on the MassDOT website.