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Fore River Bridge hearing scheduled for May 16

Proposed design for Fore River Bridge between Quincy and Weymouth.

Rendering by Rosales + Partners

Proposed design for Fore River Bridge between Quincy and Weymouth.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in Weymouth on May 16 at which it will show its plans for replacing the Fore River Bridge and an engineer will answer questions about the process.

The hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Abigail Adams Middle School at 89 Middle St., is the latest in a series focused on building the new span carrying Route 3A between Quincy and Weymouth.

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The Fore River Bridge is a key link for commuters on the South Shore. It is also one that everyone seems to love to hate, because traffic backs up on Route 3A whenever the bridge is raised to allow oil tankers and other vessels to pass underneath.

The temporary bridge there now — known to locals as “The Erector Set” — carries approximately 32,000 vehicles daily over the Fore River. It will soon be replaced with a permanent bridge that everyone must live with for the next 75 years.

The new span will be a vertical-lift bridge, with a middle portion that moves up and down to provide barges and boats room to pass underneath. It will carry two travel lanes in each direction, along with a 5-foot shoulders and sidewalks to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.

It will follow the same alignment as the old bascule bridge that once stood there. Many remember the old 1936 bridge and its noisy open grid steel deck, which made a loud “HUMMM” sound every time a vehicle drove over it. It eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished in 2004.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $272 million, 80 percent of which will be paid with federal dollars and the rest by the state.

Work is scheduled to continue until 2016, and traffic may be reduced to one lane in each direction from May through August of 2015.

An engineer will be attending the May 16 meeting to answer questions, and plans will be on display for a half-hour before the hearing begins.

In a letter to residents, Frank DePaola, state Highway Division administrator, said, “As part of the design process for this project, we are conducting this public hearing to explain the proposed improvements, listen to your comments, and answer any questions you may have. At the conclusion of the hearing, MassDOT will review all of your comments and, where feasible, incorporate them into the design of the project.”

For more information about the Fore River Bridge replacement project, visit www.mass.gov/massdot/foreriverbridge.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.
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