Gov. Patrick announces $200 million for I-91 viaduct project - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Gov. Patrick announces $200 million for I-91 viaduct project

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Plans are now in the works to bring changes to the area of Interstate 91 that runs through Springfield.

Earlier this month, portions of the I-91 south garage had to be closed due to falling debris.

On Tuesday, Gov. Deval Patrick was in Springfield to announce to members of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield a $200 million investment will be made to help repair the problem-ravaged interstate.

"It's a replacement project not just to prop it up, but to make it new and modern and safe and efficient," said Patrick.

The project will contain possibly three phases with the first focusing in on the viaducts that hang above downtown.

The work will begin at the 291 Interchange and will stop at the State Street exit.

The $200 million will only cover the first phase.

Work on the twin decks is expected to begin next November and will take roughly three years.

Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said a study will begin in January that would figure out the cost of the second phase and would also analyze a possible new route for 91.
 
"That's a community process, we want to work with the mayor, we want to hear from citizens and to think about this beyond a road project but a potential downtown revitalization project," said Davey.

It's a revitalization that Davey said could possibly bring the interstate to ground level or even below ground.

"As you move down the road there is a real opportunity to think of us what the viaduct could be," said Davey.

Roughly 75,000 vehicles drive on the stretch of roadway daily, and Patrick said because of the deplorable conditions of the viaducts, it's important construction is done.

"It's not just a want to do, but it's a need to do. It's a great opportunity for the city and the region to think about how to design this project so it restores the connection between the downtown and the riverfront."

Tiffany Karam is the manager of JT's Sports Pub. She said the new construction could bring in some new foot traffic to local businesses.

"There's usually a build-up when big events happen around here, so I'm sure once the construction is done, we'll definitely see a pickup in the business," said Karam.

The majority of the construction will be done during the overnight hours to help cut back on traffic problems.

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