This bridge reconstruction project was located on Pleasant Street over the Blackstone River in Grafton, Massachusetts. The original bridge served as an important link between the village of Saundersville and Grafton Center, as well as a connection from Grafton to Route 146 and the Massachusetts Turnpike. A double barrel stone arch constructed in 1909, it was considered a worthy example of early-1900 stone masonry arch construction and is listed in the National Historic Register. Due to foundation movement and settling, the bridge could not be repaired, and instead necessitated reconstruction. Therefore, the project specifications for the new bridge included preservation measures that were designed to replicate and restore the historically significant aspects of the original bridge, such as the arch fascia ring stones, while meeting present-day loading and safety criteria.

Bayside Engineering developed the bridge design and roadway plans in just four and six weeks, respectively, to address environmental concerns, historic preservation and overall aesthetic appeal. These requirements were implemented to satisfy local commissions, state historic preservation concerns and desire for a bridge that maintained the rural character of the site.

MassDOT selected the design-build approach and the Bayside Engineering-SPS team for the bridge replacement and utilized an incentive clause to accelerate the opening of the new bridge. The design-build component allowed for site work and substructure work to progress into construction while the final design engineering progressed. For example, the “Final Design Review – Highway Elements” started in early April 2009, just one week after environmental review and permitting had been completed and the contractor had mobilized to start the demolition and site work.

As an “accelerated bridge” designee, the selection of a prefabricated precast concrete arch system was proposed. The custom arches were constructed to closely match the original arch profile, which made possible field replication of the original façade. Original ring stones were attached to the precast arch fascias. The contractor, in order to meet the accelerated schedule, elected to use precast components for the spandrels and wingwalls.

Environmental permitting for this fast-track design-build historic bridge replacement and replication project was a complex and critical path for the success of this project. The Bayside Engineering and MassDOT team worked with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps, and the Conservation Commission to communicate, implement and monitor the intended construction and mitigation efforts. Bayside Engineering prepared the necessary plans and documents needed to secure all permits and approvals from: MA DEP (401 WQC), USACE (PGP), local Con. Comm. (Ch. 131 OOC), NHESP (endangered turtle protection), Local Historic Commission and MHC (MOA for historic bridge replication requirements).

This project had many complicated issues which were successfully addressed by consistent communication, proper engineering and exceptional planning. Some of the more problematic issues included: historic restoration requirements, control of the Blackstone River during construction as well as stringent deadlines to create, review and execute the critical submittals, obtaining necessary environmental permits and completing shop drawings. Additionally, this project had a number of other challenging site conditions, including continually fluctuating water levels, a gas line relocation, access requirements for adjacent properties and a pervious river bottom that made dewatering the cofferdams difficult. An innovative water diversion structure was utilized to control the Blackstone River and minimize environmental impacts and construction time.

Using conventional design and construction methods, this project would have taken over 18 months to design and construct. By employing numerous innovations, including design-build contract delivery, contract incentives for early completion, water diversion structures to allow substructure construction, and precast bridge structural elements, this project progressed from design inception to construction completion in just five months. The newly constructed bridge was opened to traffic 64 days earlier than contractual requirements and was completed under budget.

This project received the prestigious “2010 Construction Management Project Achievement Award” from the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), New England Chapter, for its success in the areas of design-build, environmental sensitivity and speed of construction. The annual CMAA Awards are given to infrastructure and construction projects of varying sizes based on project value. The Awards Committee, composed of professional construction managers, considers safety, quality and cost management, innovation and creativity, and customer satisfaction in choosing the winning projects.


Client: Town of Grafton, MA
Location: Pleasant Street Over Blackstone River, Grafton, MA