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Bridge will remain open during repair

In a departure from its original plan, the Department of Public Works (DPW) will keep the Harvard Bridge open to all vehicles during its reconstruction. The full reconstruction of the bridge will begin in 1987, said Chesten Radlo of the DPW, but he did not know how long the reconstruction would take.

The DPW planned to close the bridge in order to complete the reconstruction as quickly as possible, Radlo said. Better work could have been done with the bridge closed, he said. Reconstruction will now extend over a longer period of time.

The new plan "probably fell into place over the last couple of months," said O. Robert Simha, MIT director of planning, in an interview with The Tech. Several factors caused the DPW to change plans:

O+ A preliminary environmental assessment described the adverse impact of detoured traffic on the surrounding roads, Simha said. Thirty thousand vehicles use the bridge daily. The traffic problems would be "heart-breaking," Radlo said.

O+ The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) also wished to use the bridge for its #1 Harvard-Dudley bus route, Simha said. The route had to be lengthenedby over two miles because of the bridge closing, he added.

The DPW intends to temporarily repair the eastern, downstream side of the bridge this spring, Simha said. It will also repair damage caused by a December truck accident. "The damage done by the truck was significant," Radlo said.

The reconstruction will allow MBTA buses to use the downstream side of the bridge, Simha said. The full refurbishing of the bridge will be completed one half at a time, with the bridge remaining open to pedestrian, MBTA, and private automobile traffic at all times, he continued.

Temporary repair on the downstream side of the bridge will be completed by the end of this summer, Radlo said. At that time all traffic will use the downstream side of the bridge, rather than the center lanes, he continued. MBTA buses will be permitted to use the bridge at this time.

The bridge, however, will still be closed to trucks, according to a Dec. 17 memorandum from Simha to Senior Vice President William R. Dickson and Associate Dean for Student Affairs Robert A. Sherwood.

The DPW will accept bids for the permanent refurbishing of the bridge next year, according to the memorandum. Reconstruction will begin on the upstream side of the bridge and will involve the total replacement of the superstructure, the memorandum stated. The DPW will sponsor a public hearing on the new plan as soon as Feb. 11, Radlo said.