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Big R Bridge lowers into Lowell’s tight site at night

February 16, 2015

2012-03248 East Merrimack St. over Eastern Canal Lowell, crop

When the historic East Merrimack Street Bridge, in Lowell, MA, was in dire need of replacement, an innovative Big R Bridge package was chosen for its favorable cost and speed of manufacture/installation. 

Vehicle Bridge_rtch Vehicle Bridge_2_rtch

Innovative package delivers faster and reduces road closure time
Rather than a fully-designed bridge system that would cause longer road closures in the busy downtown, Big R provided an innovative package of fabricated steel superstructure, precast composite deck panels, sidewalks and guardrails. This allowed the bridge components to be set quickly on rehabilitated granite abutments and the center pier during 11:00pm to 6:00am night shifts.

With a continuous two-span bridge on a healthy skew, the composite deck needed to be post-tensioned. Clear vision by the contractor and the owner’s senior engineering staff enabled Big R to move forward quickly with a comprehensive plan to provide this turn-key solution.

Two-phased construction sequence
Several delays, including a significant issue around bridge-mounted utility conduits, caused the bridge to be built in two phases. One lane and sidewalk were built in each phase with the steel being set one night and the precast composite decking the next night.

2012-03248 East Merrimack St. over Eastern Canal Lowell, crop2

Fitting in with the locals
Rehabilitation of the old granite abutments and the center pier, allowed our bridge to fit easily into the existing site. A new stone form-liner pier cap and the reddish patina of our naturally-weathering steel helped the new bridge blend into the surroundings of this historic-mill-town-turned-vibrant-college-city. 

Through property rights dating back to the 1800s, the owner is actually Enel Green Power North America Inc. They own historic canal bridges throughout Lowell and other areas of the northeastern US. In fact, they’ve since bought another bridge from us for a New York project.


Name: East Merrimack Street Bridge Replacement
Location: Lowell, MA
Owner: Enel Green Power North America Inc.
Engineer: Calderwood Engineering  
Contractor: New England Infrastructure  
Product: Vehicular Modular Bridge (Composite Precast Deck)
Application: Canal Crossing 
Dimensions: 66.54' long x 40.58' wide