Construction to replace the westbound side of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, which began Thursday evening and will last until Aug. 11, was on schedule Saturday as demolition began, according to state Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.
“Right now we are hitting all of our milestones,” Gulliver said. “Again it’s early, but we expect to be hitting all our other milestones all day today and into Monday.”
The Massachusetts Turnpike has been reduced to three lanes — two outbound and one inbound — as work crews tear down sections of the bridge and move the material off-site.
Gulliver said his goal is to have another lane of the turnpike open by 5 a.m. Monday, so two outbound and two inbound lanes will be in operation for the weekday commute.
Throughout the weekend, construction crews will remove existing concrete and begin installing steel beams and securing them to the bridge, Gulliver said.
The section of Commonwealth Avenue from St. Paul Street to St. Mary’s Street is closed to traffic, and shuttle buses are being subbed for Green Line trolleys between Babcock and Blandford streets.
As construction began in earnest, shop owners along Commonwealth Avenue remained optimistic that the changes would not disrupt business too much.
“We’re certainly hoping not,” Max Pelham, general manager of Life Alive Organic Cafe, said when asked if the construction would affect his business. “It was a little slow yesterday, but a lot of things affect that.”
Pelham said his biggest fear is that police officers directing traffic away from the area could discourage customers from coming.
Up the street at the Sunset Cantina, manager Tim Raihl said he wasn’t too worried as a lot of the restaurant’s clientele are college students who can walk to the restaurant.
Raihl said that if last year’s construction on the bridge is any indication, business should only dip a little bit.
“Construction is a detriment for some, but if you want to come here, you’ll come here,” he said.
Bob Hennessee, manager of Otto pizza, said he feared the construction will delay pizza deliveries.
“It’s tougher for our drivers to get around,” Hennessee said. “Delivery times are a little longer, especially because we can’t get over to Cambridge.”
Hennessee said the Boston University Bridge closing could slow delivery times by up to 30 percent, and he will have an additional driver available.
“I’d like to ask everyone to bear with us,” he said.
Officials also urged travelers to bear with the construction when the workweek starts up on Monday.
“Monday morning when we return to regular commuting day, it’s very, very important that people realize we are at half capacity coming under this bridge on the turnpike and there are major service impacts on top of the bridge,” Gulliver said.
Officials urged the public to check the Massachusetts Department of Transportation website for updates and to expect delays.
“My number one suggestion is: If you don’t have to come into the city, avoid it altogether — that will be your best bet,” Gulliver said. “The less traffic that comes in, the better for everybody.”
Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly described the open lanes on the Massachusetts Turnpike during bridge construction.
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