SANDOWN – If only for a few weeks, the center of Sandown has a stoplight. Those traveling Main Street (Route 121A) should have noticed that they need to be aware of a traffic signal on either side of the bridge over the Exeter River.
Work began on the bridge last week and is expected to last for 11 weeks.
Steve Johnson of the state bridge maintenance bureau said that the project is going well and is on schedule. The project will replace the decking of the bridge and expand the overall width of the structure.
The abutments will remain where they are but the roadway itself will be expanded. The point of that expansion, Johnson explained, is to make future work on the bridge safer. Currently crews are working on a single lane as cars utilize the other, but a little more space between the two activities is desired.
Johnson explained that the bridge’s decking was beginning to show deterioration and it was time to fix it. After this year’s work is completed, the bridge should be maintenance free for years to come. “Our intent is not to be back there for a long time,” said Johnson.
The stop light will remain until the project’s completion. Johnson said the light has been very effective for bridge crews. The light will remain in use 24 hours a day, as at any point during the project one lane of the bridge will not be traversable.
The light saves on the cost of flaggers and is necessary for this kind of long-term project, explained Johnson. The bridge bureau hasn’t fielded any complaints about the light.
The cost of the bridge work is split between state and federal funding. It is being handled by state crews.
The larger jobs often go out to bid, but small jobs like the one in Sandown are usually handled more cost effectively in house, said Johnson. There are 10 construction crews around the state and in each of those group’s areas, there are about 200 bridges.
The work is set to take place Mondays through Fridays from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. but motorists should be aware that the light will remain in use 24 hours a day and that they should drive cautiously through the work area.