FOREST HILLS—The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) maintains the Casey Overpass is safe to drive on and under, following emergency repairs that closed one direction of traffic on Aug. 31.
Protective fabric shielding to contain debris previously had been installed on other areas of the overpass. But fabric will not be placed on the section where the debris recently fell, MassDOT spokesperson Michael Verseckes told the Gazette.
“To cover the entire bridge would hinder maintenance efforts, which is why it has only been installed in certain locations,” Verseckes said.
“It seems insane to leave the crumbling bits to fall on the people below in order to speed up the repairs on a doomed bridge,” said Liz O’Connor, a member of the group advising MassDOT on an overpass replacement project, calling for the affected section to be covered.
The eastbound lane was closed for approximately 12 hours for repairs after debris fell from a section of the overpass over the MBTA station property at the intersection of Washington Street, New Washington Street and the Arborway, to the east of the Route 39 bus stop. The debris was comprised of loose concrete and asphalt.
“We will continue to monitor the bridge’s condition and make any emergency repairs should they be needed,” Verseckes said. “We will continue to ensure that this overpass is safe to drive on or walk underneath.”
The aging overpass is slated to be demolished starting early next year, then be replaced by a new network of surface streets. The overpass already was restricted to only two travel lanes and has fabric wrap on several parts to catch any debris. MassDOT officials have said it cannot be repaired and must be demolished, but is safe to drive on.
MassDOT was notified by the Boston Police Department. The debris fell directly to the ground and caused no damage and no injuries, Verseckes said.
During the closure, MassDOT made repairs to the area above where the debris was found and made other repairs to the concrete deck of the bridge. It also patched potholes on the bridge’s surface, Verseckes said.
The long traffic delays caused by the repairs are not indicative of what community members can expect during the demolition, Verseckes said.
“MassDOT will be working with all the appropriate parties to develop and publicize a traffic management plan to help traffic flow through the area during construction, instead of blocking travel on a bridge during peak travel times like we had to,” he said. “Unfortunately, the work on [Aug. 31] was unexpected and we were not able to make those accommodations for drivers at that time.”
The overpass is the State Route 203/Arborway bridge over Washington Street and New Washington Street. The first stages of demolition are expected to start in the spring of next year.