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Globe Watch

Drivers find part of I-93 dark and bumpy

Despite recent highway work, sections of Interstate 93 between Exits 30 and 31 are in poor condition. Readers also complain the Route 16 access ramps in Medford are pothole-ridden. Despite recent highway work, sections of Interstate 93 between Exits 30 and 31 are in poor condition. Readers also complain the Route 16 access ramps in Medford are pothole-ridden. (Christina Pazzanese for The Boston Globe)
By Christina Pazzanese
Globe Correspondent / January 3, 2011

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Several readers ask why Interstate 93 from Somerville to Stoneham is still in such poor condition despite having undergone federally funded work since 2009. GlobeWatch first looked into problems plaguing I-93 in March 2009, when state highway officials said that plans were well underway to fix things.

Yu Wang wrote that while road crews did some resurfacing on I-93, a section in Somerville closest to Boston was not done and Route 16 onramps and offramps in Medford are full of large potholes.

“One obvious example is located between Exit 31 and Exit 30 inbound where there’s an overpass for Route 16,’’ Wang said in an e-mail. “The road surface in this part is so bumpy that cars have to slow down there. It has been months without any change.

“I’m curious who is the contractor that has done such neglected work. I’m also curious who in the MassDOT is supposed to check and monitor the work. It’s hard to believe that in the main artery to the city [there was] such unfinished work left for months. As a taxpayer, every one of us deserves an answer.’’

Two other readers want to know why lights along I-93 from Somerville to Stoneham have been dark for what seems like years.

“I’m interested in finding out why there are sections of Route 93 North w/o any lighting? There are lights there, but they are not lit,’’ wrote Mary Beth Joyce. “I realize there are some construction projects in some parts of Route 93 N, but isn’t that all the more reason why the lights are needed?’’

Arthur Boghosian said he believes the lights have been off for at least a decade.

“I have called the highway department and have never received a response,’’ he wrote. “Traveling through other states one would never experience conditions so deplorable. I often comment to my wife that it reminds one of conditions in Baghdad.’’

A visit by a Globe reporter last week found a much smoother highway ride around Exit 30 in Somerville to points north. But the highway remains in the same tough shape from the Zakim Bridge to the area of exits 28 and 29 by Winter Hill.

And as Wang notes, the Route 16 ramps in Medford around Exit 31 are still riddled with deep potholes.

THE STATE RESPONDS
Adam Hurtubise, MassDOT spokesman, said because I-93 needed far more work than anticipated, the state had to secure additional funding last summer to bolster an existing $24.5 million in contracts for bridge deck work, road resurfacing, and lighting upgrades.

Because of the extra cost, MassDOT decided to separate out the replacement of 14 area bridge decks, including the Route 16 overpass, into a separate contract slated to begin later this year, he said.

A project to address conditions on I-93 from the Zakim Bridge to the Winter Hill area is in the design phase, Hurtubise said.

Work to install a new lighting system, including new light poles, from the Boston city line through Somerville to Roosevelt Circle in Medford is 85 percent to 90 percent complete, Hurtubise said, but has shut down for the winter. That project is ahead of schedule and the lights should be operational by June, he said. New light poles to be erected on adjacent overpasses will be done as part of the bridge deck project. Contractors will put in temporary lights while that work is underway, he said.

Readers with problems they would like addressed can e-mail globewatch@globe.com.

WHO’S IN CHARGE
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
(MassDOT)
Luisa M. Paiewonsky
Administrator
Highway Division
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3170
Boston, MA 02116
617-973-7800

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