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Bridge work well ahead of schedule

By Cliff Schmidt

The construction on the Harvard Bridge may be completed much sooner than its original deadline of November 1990. Modern Continental, the contractor for the project, predicts that work on the bridge may be completed by the end of this year.

Last year's mild winter was the main reason for the unexpected rapid pace of construction on the bridge, said Scott Pickard of the Massachusetts Department of Public Works. A fierce win-_ter can slow down the process enormously, making concrete laying and paving practically impossible, he noted.

According to Pickard, the switch to construction of the downstream side of the bridge, which had originally been expected to occur around Labor Day, took place on July 5. Pickard now predicts that the project will be completed in the spring or early summer of 1990.

MDPW awarded the contract to the Modern Continental construction company in June 1988, and construction began within a month.

Pickard commended Modern Continental for its rapid progress, and thanked the public for putting up with the inconvenience of two-lane traffic.

Modern Continental predicts an even earlier reopening of all four lanes on Harvard Bridge. David Reder, project manager for Modern Continental, claimed that most of the work will be completed by this December. If the entire job is not finished this year, the remaining jobs -- such as landscaping and other miscellaneous tasks -- will be completed no later than this spring, he said.

The determining factor is this year's winter, Reder said. "Once the temperature gets below 50 degrees, precautions have to be taken, which slows down the whole process," he explained. Reder said that Modern Continental is doing everything it can to avoid the extra time and costs that would be necessary to work through a second winter.

Currently, there are almost 80 men on the job every work day, which is the maximum number of people that will ever work at one time, according to Reder. Depending on the type of work for a particular day, the number can shrink to as few as 20, Reder said. The construction crew works eight hours a day, five to six days a week.

In addition to the basic reconstruction of the road, a new, gently sloping pedestrian ramp will connect the bridge with the esplanade below. The main purpose of this ramp will be to serve the handicapped by creating a much easier slope for a wheelchair to climb, but it is very likely that many student bicyclists will also find the new ramp helpful.