A project to reconstruct the interchange of Exit 6 off Interstate 87 has finally reached its beginning stages of construction, according to project officials.
The $40 million project involves the replacement of the existing bridge.
According to Project Manager Dan Moore, the bridge that currently exists at Exit 6 was built about 48 years ago. While Moore said the bridge was not in danger of falling, inspectors from the state Department of Transportation have evaluated the span and determined future maintenance cost more than rebuilding it.
As the bridge gets older, it needs more and more maintenance, said Moore. "At a certain point in time, the cost of maintaining and fixing the bridge -- it's not cost effective to do that. It's more cost effective to replace it."
The beams under the overpass of the bridge had suffered some deterioration, according to Moore.
"The bridge is structurally sound," he said. "But the bridge actually has been struck by over-height vehicles."
Moore said the current bridge supports a truck height that is 2 feet under the standard height for an interstate. While the standards have changed and the bridge is partly to blame, Moore said the trucks that were striking the beams were not "following the rules."
"They struck the steel beams and a couple of the beams have gotten damaged over the years. These can only survive so many strikes before we have to go in and fix the beams," said Moore. "So that was another driving force of us doing this project."
The DOT decided to replace the bridge, but before they did, they wanted to evaluate what the best replacement model would be.
They decided on a Single Point Urban Interchange.
According to Town Councilman Brian Hogan, liaison to the Department of Public Works, the town department that will be doing a lot of the construction, in a SPUI, "Your exit and entrance ramps all come together at the same spot and, with a series of traffic lights, the traffic is disbursed onto the road that you're trying to go."