MassDOT: Casey doesn’t need safety upgrades

September 28, 2012
By

FOREST HILLS—The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has no plans to alter the Casey Overpass’s maintenance schedule or safety devices following emergency repairs late last month.

MassDOT continues to monitor the condition of the aging Casey on the same maintenance schedule as before Aug. 31, when 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 Casey is currently inspected once a year, twice as often as most MassDOT bridges. The last inspection took place Jan. 16 and while “deficiencies were noted throughout,” it was “unpredictable” that debris would fall, MassDOT spokesperson Sara Lavoie told the Gazette.

The falling debris was comprised of loose concrete and asphalt and fell uncovered by safety netting, on an area not used by pedestrians or cars. The Casey’s eastbound lane was closed for approximately 12 hours to allow repairs.

“Repairs were made and inspectors checked the bridge for any additional areas and found no areas requiring additional attention. The public should feel safe traveling on and under the Casey Overpass,” Lavoie said.

The debris was the result of “the deterioration of [the] bridge,” due to the bridge’s age, Lavoie added.

The Casey is inspected annually, as mandated by a MassDOT condition rating. The Casey’s current rating, the same rating it had before Aug. 31, merits one inspection per year, Lavoie said. If the Casey’s condition is downgraded, it would be inspected every six months.

“Maintenance efforts have increased as the bridge has aged. As far as a schedule, MassDOT continues to monitor the bridge’s condition and will address any maintenance needs should they arise,” MassDOT spokesperson Michael Verseckes told the Gazette.

Safety netting that covers sections of the overpass was installed three years ago, Verseckes said, while the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was still responsible for its maintenance. The netting is meant to catch any debris.

“It’s only attached to the overpass in a few locations as a precautionary measure,” Verseckes said. There are no plans to add more safety netting, he added.

Lavoie said that the netting is fulfilling its purpose where it is installed. It is unclear if the netting has already caught any falling debris. When asked why MassDOT won’t cover the whole overpass in the netting, Lavoie said, “covering the whole overpass in netting would be a significant task.”

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. MassDOT officials have said it cannot be repaired and must be demolished.

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