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MassHighway, SPS New England Start Work on Freetown’s Route 24

Fri March 12, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

MassHighway and general contractor SPS New England Inc., Salisbury, Mass., are taking soil samples and preparing to hit the ground running to improve a busy highway that serves as a north-south lifeline from Boston to the South Shore.

SPS New England is heading the work to improve highway access along Rte. 24, one of the Commonwealth’s busiest thoroughfares, which dots cities like Brockton, Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford along its path. The contract for construction of a new interchange between Exits 8 and 9 on Rte. 24 by constructing a full access interchange between Fall River and Freetown, Mass., to be known as 8B, went to SPS New England Inc. for $34,739,805. Costs for overall work along Rte. 24, however, through various sister projects, is expected to exceed $70 million.

Improved Highway Flow

The interchange project includes the creation of the new entrance and exit ramps associated with Interchange 8B, the relocation of a segment of South Main Street and the creation of a new street, to be known as Executive Parking Drive. This new road will connect South Main Street and Riggenbach Road, while also connecting the new exit to the local road network and providing access to the new Fall River Executive Park.

Economic stimulus in Fall River has been centered on bringing industry to the area and improving access to these industries and warehouses just outside the city, which is the purpose of these new roads.

This new connection will help to alleviate existing congestion on South Main Street and at Exits 8 and 9. The project will benefit the town of Freetown and the city of Fall River by improving highway access for their commercial developments, as well as compensating Fall River for its donation of development rights to the nearby bio-reserve. Both Fall River and Freetown run along the Ten Mile River, which feeds Narragansett Bay.

The project had its 25 percent design hearing in February. According to MassHighway spokesman Adam Hurtibise, the three years of ongoing work are scheduled for tentative completion on Nov. 1, 2012.

ARRA Stimulus at Work

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick lauded the project when it was announced in 2009, as part of his “Massachusetts Recovery Plan.” Rte. 24 became one of the first big “shovel-ready” projects in the Commonwealth, using federal highway stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“I am delighted to invest federal stimulus funds in this project, and to provide lasting economic impact in this community,” Patrick said at the announcement. It literally builds on $17 million in economic development grants that the Patrick administration awarded early in 2009 for the creation of the new Fall River Executive Park.

According to MassHighway, state officials expect the interchange work to be done using the innovative design-build delivery system to complete projects more quickly and cost-effectively.

“We are proud of this infrastructure initiative, which provides the dual benefit of immediate jobs for Massachusetts residents that will result in long-term improvements for commuters across the Route 24 corridor,” said Jeffrey A. Simon, director of Infrastructure Investment of the Commonwealth.

“The Route 24 interchange means jobs, jobs, jobs for Fall River. I’m elated that a project of this magnitude and importance for job creation was considered and approved for stimulus funds,” said Fall River Mayor Robert Correia. “The funding for this project is a strong vehicle for regional equity and I’m very appreciative of Governor Deval Patrick’s forceful support and clear understanding of our transportation and economic development needs.”

“The Rte. 24 interchange project is vitally important to the transportation network in southeastern Massachusetts. It will open up tremendous potential for job opportunities for New Bedford residents,” said nearby New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang.

Well-Known Contractor

SPS New England Inc.’s workers have regularly been featured on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, because SPS provides heavy construction and bridge repair and maintenance services to municipal and state clients throughout New England.

According to the SPS Web site, the company bring more than 20 years of experience and an excellent reputation to the industry.

“We built our reputation on the strength of our company, the expertise of our management and the quality of our workforce. Our bids are competitive and we deliver projects that are on time and on budget,” is the online company motto.

Its itinerary of services include moveable bridge repairs, expansion joint installation and repairs, substructure concrete repairs, rapid set deck repairs, structural steel, heat straightening and other work on bridges, highways, buildings, Mass Transit, marine construction and dams.

SPS is responsible for some of the most prominent projects in the region, including the rehabilitation of the Fall River Government Center over I-195, the Commerce Way Interchange in Woburn, Mass., the I-495 Interchange in Lawrence, Mass., and the Route 128 Canton, Dedham, Westwood, Mass. Interchange.

Under an aggressive timeline set by Patrick, 31 shovel-ready projects have moved forward under the ARRA, representing an investment of $187.4 million.

Massachusetts has received the authority from the federal government to spend a total of $437.9 million on transportation projects under the ARRA, including the $153.2 million committed to “shovel-ready” projects advertised for bid by the end of June. Projects funded with the remaining transportation federal stimulus funds must be advertised for bid by March 2010. The total stimulus funding for Massachusetts also includes $319 million in recovery funds for transit projects at the Regional Transit Authorities and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in addition to the $437 million in highway funding. The Administration working with the Legislature has approved more than $9 billion for road, bridge and transit projects through transportation bond bills and an historic eight-year accelerated bridge repair program.

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