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Time to Master the Mix
June 28th, 2018
REPUBLICAN AMERICAN: Thursday, June 28, 2018
Time to Master the Mix
Work begins on rehabilitating I-84 and Route 8 junction
BY ANDREW LARSON
WATERBURY — Work is underway on a project to rehabilitate the junction of Interstate 84 and Route 8, extending its life another 25 years. The network of bridges and ramps that comprise the Mixmaster were built in the 1960s and need to be repaired to remain safe, according to the state Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the $153 million project. When it’s complete, the double-decker structure will be in the same location and look mostly the same as it does now — but with fresh asphalt and refurbished steel.
It’s an admittedly tedious project in comparison to the ongoing I-84 reconstruction, where the public can see progress, said the DOT’s Project Engineer David Ferraro. Nighttime lane closures will be required, squeezing threelane traffic on I-84 down to two lanes and Route 8’s two lanes to one.
However, both highways will remain open for the duration of the four-year project. To accomplish that, the contractor, Walsh Construction, will build a temporary bypass for Route 8 northbound, which needs to have its deck completely replaced.
The deck of Route 8 northbound, shown here, will be replaced during the Mixmaster rehabilitation project over the next four years.
“It’s the only way to accommodate northbound traffic through the interchange,” Ferraro said.
The bypass will be built along the northbound direction of Riverside Street, from south of Riverside Cemetery to just north of Freight Street. Walsh Construction will reconfigure the southbound side of Riverside Street so that it can carry two-way traffic. When the project is finished, Riverside Street will be restored to its current state.
Preliminary work for the rehabilitation began June 1. Walsh is setting up trailers at the end of Jackson Street and the DOT will open a field office on Bank Street in a couple of months.
The first visible signs of work will occur this week or next when crews start removing trees in the area of Jackson Street to create space for the temporary bypass. The next priority will be constructing the bypass, which feature three temporary bridges — two over the Naugatuck River and one over Freight Street. It will be situated on an embankment that runs parallel to the Metro-North Railroad train tracks. Route 8 northbound traffic is expected to be rerouted onto the bypass next summer.
Another visible change will be a U-turn off Exit 35 of Route 8 northbound, which will allow drivers to turn onto the southbound direction of the highway when exit ramps are closed, without having to exit Route 8. It’s expected to open by summer 2019 as well.
The Mixmaster rehabilitation is gearing up as the I84 widening enters its final year. Unlike I-84, where much of the construction occurred offline, the Route 8 project is confined to a tighter space, meaning construction will affect more of the existing highways.
Once the project is in full force, night and weekend lane closures will occur on I-84 eastbound and westbound starting at 10 p.m. The DOT will require all lanes to reopen by 6 a.m. On Route 8, lane closures will be allowed in each direction starting at 7 p.m., with all lanes required to reopen by 6 a.m. Exit ramps on both highways will generally stay open except on weekends and nights.
Walsh Construction is scheduled to finish the project by Sept. 10, 2022. The work includes repairs to bridge decks, structural steel, substructures and bridge deck joints, along with parapet and drainage upgrades.
The repairs are expected to prolong the Mixmaster’s service life another 25 years, but by the end of that period, it will need to be replaced — a project the DOT estimates could cost $10 billion.
The yellow arrow shows the path of a bypass for Route 8 northbound that will be constructed over the next year. It will allow Route 8 northbound to stay open while the deck is replaced.