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Reconstructing the Comm Ave Bridge, in Pictures

Photo essay recalls herculean 24/7 project

If you’re new to BU or just arriving back on campus, it’s hard to imagine what the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue over the Massachusetts Turnpike, which runs through campus, looked like just a few weeks ago. For nearly three weeks, the busy thoroughfare and the BU Bridge were closed to most vehicular traffic, and the MBTA Green Line B trolleys were replaced with shuttle buses from Blandford Street to Babcock Street—all to carry out phase one of the Comm Ave Bridge Replacement Project—the commonwealth’s $110 million replacement of the half-century-old concrete surface and steel beams that support Comm Ave as it passes over the pike. BU Today photographers documented the scene from beginning to end.

The massive undertaking, overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, began July 26. Approximately 200 construction workers using Accelerated Bridge Construction techniques worked 24/7 over the ensuing weeks to replace the avenue’s eastbound lanes, sidewalk, bike lanes, and MBTA trolley tracks. Phase one consisted of 267 concrete deck panels, all laid out ahead of time in an Allston rail yard in the order they were to be put together, as well as 44 steel girders, weighing between 6,000 and 90,000 pounds, and 5 giant cranes, the largest 440 tons and 157 feet tall.

While the original schedule called for reopening Comm Ave to cars and Green Line trolleys on August 14, the project was pushed back two days because of construction and weather-related delays.

The bridge reopened for business August 16, good news for the estimated 30,000 drivers who cross it each day and for the 26,000 daily Green Line riders. But don’t get too comfortable: we get to go through it all over again next July, when the westbound lanes, sidewalk, bike lane, and trolley areas will be replaced in phase two.

Until then, happy (and safe) driving, riding, and walking.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Reconstructing the Comm Ave Bridge, in Pictures

  • clk on 09.06.2017 at 10:17 am

    Actually, having the BU bridge and Commonwealth Avenue free of cars created an unexpected heaven for bikers and walkers. An example of what safe biking and walking could look like; a real joy.

    • Mike on 09.06.2017 at 8:09 pm

      I agree crossing University Ave and the BU Bridge was so easy!

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