Beginning work on the rehabilitation of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge that runs over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston, crews opened the toll road to preconstruction traffic patterns on Aug. 7—nearly three weeks earlier than planned.

The high-pressure design-build project, which is employing accelerated building techniques, began in earnest on July 26. Construction was expected to snarl traffic on local roads and the MBTA’s Green Line and bus routes until a few days past its originally scheduled completion date, Aug. 14. But frazzled turnpike commuters welcomed the early reopening of all four lanes of traffic in both directions. The road was reduced on July 7 to three lanes in each direction and then further reduced, from July 28 to Aug. 7, to two lanes or one lane. Restrictions originally were scheduled through Aug. 28. As many as 145,000  drivers travel that stretch of I-90 each day. 

Acting Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said in a statement that the project team, including general contractor Walsh Construction Co., “collaboratively modified the sequencing of key work” to install new steel beams and remove a 440-ton hydraulic crane off the turnpike faster than expected. MassDOT Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack in an Aug. 6 statement noted, “Our team has designed this major construction project in a way that considers the needs of the traveling public, as well as residents of the Greater Boston area, and we are pleased with the progress of work so far.”

Planning for the $82-million project to replace the deteriorating 52-year-old bridge began in 2011. Major bridge components were fabricated off-site and assembled in place.