The Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation has approved a $205-million project to replace a timeworn steel-truss bridge along Boston’s historic Freedom Trail.

The 118-year-old North Washington Street Bridge, which carries 44,000 drivers daily, has been structurally deficient for 16 years in an area known for significant transit delays. It requires up to $2 million annually for maintenance by the city, according to a March 19 agency press release.

J.F. White, which recently won the $177-million base contract award, will begin construction this fall on the project. The city of Boston employed the Boston office of Alfred Benesch & Co. for design services.

Work will be carried out in phases, with lane closures to accommodate the demolition of the existing structure while crews construct sections of the new bridge. Completion is expected by fall 2023.

The city has allocated as much as $7.2 million as an incentive for the contractor to finish early, according to MassDOT. Conversely, the penalty for missing the deadline is $40,000 per day, with no limit.

The design goals for the project are improved functionality and travel reliability, the agency states.

In addition to increasing intersection safety and capability and improving the navigation channel, the 1,100-ft-long replacement structure will include two lanes of traffic in each direction, dedicated bike lanes, 12-foot-wide sidewalks, observational sidewalk build-outs, curbside plantings and other architectural features designed to complement the bridge’s natural and built surroundings.

The new bridge addresses the function of the North Washington Street crossing as a significant regional transportation link between “the historic communities of the North End and Charlestown … in the shadow of the iconic Leonard P. Zakim Bridge [which carries I-93 over the Charles],” the agency notes.

The city is expected to pick up at least $14.9 million of the project’s cost, with the rest coming from federal and state funds, the agency notes. J.F. White was the lowest bidder, followed by Skanska Barletta JV at $187 million, The Middlesex Corp. at $195 million and Walsh/SPJ JV II at $198 million.