The state is moving forward with a $21.5 million project to replace the bridge that carries Route 128 north and south over the Waters River in Danvers.

The state Department of Transportation board of directors recently awarded a construction contract to D.W. White Construction of Acushnet.

The work is expected to start early next year and take about five years to complete.

The project will replace the current bridge, which has been deemed structurally deficient, and add a new sound barrier. The bridge will be replaced in thirds, according to MassDOT.

Construction crews plan to keep two travel lanes in each direction open on the bridge during peak and weekend hours. The bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction during overnight work.

The speed limit on that portion of Route 128 will be lowered to 45 mph during construction. During the final phase of the work, Exit 24 (Endicott Street) on Route 128 north and Exit 25 (Route 114) on Route 128 south will be temporarily closed.

“MassDOT has worked closely with the local community and key stakeholders throughout the planning and design process, and we are pleased to be awarding this contract and moving forward with construction operations,” Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said in a recent statement. “This project will provide numerous benefits including replacing a structurally deficient bridge, improving sidewalks and adding barriers to mitigate traffic noise for local residents.”

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