In the News

2015 |2014

Burns Bridge Opens Ahead of Schedule

July 31, 2015

The Kenneth F. Burns Memorial Bridge project, spanning Lake Quinsigamond and linking the communities of Worcester and Shrewsbury opened both the eastbound and westbound bridges on Thursday, July 23, 2015. The design-build replacement project, for which FST is the lead design engineer for builder Middlesex Corporation, is running within budget and three to four months ahead of schedule.

At a presentation to the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, state transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack cited the bridge for its innovative project delivery methods. The blue-colored structure has also won raves for its beautiful appearance.

Amanda Richard of the MassDOT told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, "This project is a great example of how local and state officials came together with advocates and community leaders to develop a great project. The successful ahead-of-schedule and on-budget project would not have been possible without the great teams put in place by Middlesex and MassDOT who worked tirelessly to deliver this project.”

The new structure is actually two separate bridges featuring steel deck arches with five spans. Each bridge has a 6-foot-wide bike lane, a 7-foot-wide sidewalk with bumped-out viewing areas above the lake, benches and historic story panels. The new bridges increase clearance under the bridge from 18 feet to 23.5 feet above the water for boat traffic. 

The replacement structures are 143 feet wide combined, significantly wider than the 67-foot, 99-year-old bridge it replaced. According to the state, about 45,000 vehicles travel over the span every day.

Other interesting facts about the new bridge:

  • The bridge is named after Kenneth Burns, a Shrewsbury police chief and champion sculler who revived crewing on the lake in the late 1930s.
  • The bridge design reflects on the arch shape of the previous bridge that was replaced, but with a modern updated appearance. The new bridges use sweeping deck arches that progressively rise from the shore and seem to leap across the water. 
  • Each post-tension duct has 1 million pounds of force in it.  There are 12 total ducts between the two bridges.
  • Each of the two bridges has approximately 4 million pounds of structural steel and 1,300 cubic yards of concrete.
  • A sophisticated computer model and extensive use of animation were used to evaluate construction staging and procedures. The new bridges were sequentially built around the old one with little impact to traffic.
  • Special traffic lights are installed on the arches below deck to provide instructions for rowers.
  • Many of the final architectural features were built off a combination of traditional 2-dimensionsal details and specifications and 3d visualization models. 
  • This will be the first of MassDOT’s Accelerated Bridge Mega Projects to be completed.  
  • The project is truly one-of-a-kind. In its graceful arch design and aesthetic detailing, there is no other bridge quite like it in the world.