BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Construction crews began mobilizing yesterday for a state highway project on a busy stretch of Route 1A in South Salem.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is repairing a failing bridge culvert under Loring Avenue near Leggs Hill Road.
Work will be done in stages to lessen the impact on traffic, the state agency said.
The four-month project is expected to be completed by the end of July.
While work is under way, state officials have pledged to keep traffic open in both directions on this major connector road between Vinnin Square and the busy junction of Canal Street, Jefferson Avenue and Loring Avenue, a road that already ties up during morning and afternoon rush hours.
“It’s awful now,” said Ward 7 Councilor Joseph O’Keefe, who has represented South Salem for years.
Loring Avenue runs next to Salem State University’s three campuses, which are home to about 10,000 students.
This stretch of state highway also is used by YMCA members going to the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA on Leggs Hill Road.
“It’s going to be difficult,” O’Keefe said, “but people will find another way” to get between Vinnin Square and Salem.
“Though no significant traffic impacts are anticipated, MassDOT encourages drivers to plan additional time when traveling through the area,” the agency said in a press release.
The state plans to keep a sidewalk open at all times for pedestrians. The project also includes construction of a new sidewalk.
This $900,000 repair will replace an old and failing culvert carrying water from the tidal Forest River.
The emergency repair is part of the state’s accelerated bridge program.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.