Excavation and back fill of the tunnels under the toll booths in the Berkshire region.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) cites safety as one of the leading drivers to switching to All Electronic Tolling (AET). According to the National Transportation Safety Bureau, “toll authorities nationwide experience rear-end collision rates that exceed other types of collisions, in part because toll plazas interrupt the flow of high-speed traffic to intermittently collect tolls.”
To improve driver safety and streamline the toll process, MassDOT has set off on a multi-year project to remove toll booths on I-90 statewide and install All Electronic Tolling. The Toll Plaza Demolition and Roadway Reconstruction project began immediately following the “live” kick-off of AET on Oct. 28, 2016.
The AET construction including gantries, detection equipment and the host system was awarded in 2014 to Raytheon Company of Waltham, Mass. The contract includes ten years of system maintenance.
Demolition of the existing toll booths was divided into six contracts totaling $132.82 million. This amount includes all contingencies and achievement of all possible incentives. Additionally, each contract has a disincentive clause for both milestone #2 (full beneficial use) and interim milestone #2 (achieving winter condition). The disincentive amounts vary by contract and range from $4.4K to $38.8K/per day.
Prior to construction, MassDOT reached out for community input through seven hearings to present the proposed rates and receive comments from the public. The hearings were held in Lenox, Lynn, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham, Newton and Allston. Each transcript was reviewed by MassDOT, and comments were tagged and grouped in feedback themes: rates, traffic diversion, equity, toll operations, other. Recurring themes were flagged for follow up and responses and/or rate alternatives were developed.
The process for removing existing toll plazas is occurring in phases to ensure the safety of drivers and work zone crews and to minimize traffic disruption. The first phase of toll plaza demolition work diverted traffic to the outer toll lanes while the center toll booths were removed. This work was completed in November 2016.
The second phase of work began after the Thanksgiving holiday 2016 with the demolition of toll plaza booths to the right and left, canopies and tunnels. Traffic is now detoured through the newly paved travel lanes where the centers of the toll plazas once stood. During this phase, drivers can travel at a posted work zone speed limit.
Toll plaza demolition activities include removal of the existing toll booth structures, access tunnels, parking lots, and toll plaza buildings. The roadway will be reconstructed to accommodate vehicles using the new roadway alignment. Weather permitting, toll plaza demolition activities will occur throughout the winter months. It is anticipated that all toll plaza infrastructure will be removed by the end of calendar year 2017.
The toll demolition and road reconstruction projects will impact travel for motorists along the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), and drivers are encouraged to slowdown in active construction areas, travel at off-peak hours and be considerate when merging and changing lanes.
MassDOT is sensitive to the needs of residents and will be monitoring construction noise levels throughout the demolition process. Mitigation measures will be applied as needed. Construction limits will be followed for night-time operations to lessen the impact on local communities. For the latest information on the MassDOT All Electronic Tolling, visit EZDriveMA.com.
(This story also can be found on Construction Equipment Guide's website at www.constructionequipmentguide.com.) —CEG