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Gloucester Drawbridge Replacement December 2021 Progress Recap

Updated on January 25, 2022

An overhead view of cement being poured into a large form to create the pier cap. Three workers stand at the left edge of the form on top of a gridwork of rebar that will be embedded within the concrete.
Gloucester Drawbridge workers pour concrete to form a pier cap (December 2021)

Note: Beginning with this edition of the newsletter, we will move to quarterly updates. The next update will appear in April 2022.

The MBTA is pleased to provide an update on ongoing and completed project activities, as well as a preview of upcoming work.

Although the overall project remains on schedule, supply chain delays and bridge construction complexities have delayed the opening of the southern barrel. We now anticipate that single-track service to Rockport will be restored in late May 2022. We’ll notify the project email list and the local press when the new reopening date is available.

Control Tower

Work on the control tower continues. With key equipment already installed in the electrical, signal, and control rooms, the focus of the work is now on finishing the interior of the tower.

Two workers in a cherry picker work on the exterior of the control tower. Another worker can be seen through the recently installed windows working inside the control tower.
Work continues inside and outside of the control tower (December 2021)

We have installed the control tower’s HVAC systems.

A ductless minisplit heater/cooler is shown attached to a wall of the control tower with a stepladder below it.
Installation of an HVAC ductless minisplit inside the control tower (December 2021)
Three HVAC units are shown installed over a metal grate next to a cement wall. The units are bolted to metal legs that lift them off the grate to allow for improved airflow.
Three control tower HVAC units (December 2021)

Plumbing installation is progressing in the restroom, kitchenette, and mop sink.

Image shows the metal structure where the control tower's kitchenette will be installed. Copper plumbing pipes have been installed within the metal structure. The view faces a window overlooking construction materials and train tracks.
Plumbing being installed in the control tower kitchenette (December 2021

In the tower, we have installed and finished the drywall.

A view of the interior of the control tower facing toward the windows shows that drywall has been installed on walls and to create bays within the room. The ceiling has no drywall and is open so that rafters and beams are visible.
Drywall installation inside the control tower (December 2021)
A worker in a yellow vest and hardhat smooths plaster over the joins in a span of drywall above windows in the control tower. The windows overlook the construction site below. The wooden beams below the ceiling of the control tower can be seen above the worker's head.
Worker mudding drywall in the control tower (December 2021)

In addition, electricians have wired outlets and lighting fixtures.

Pier 2

Pier 2 contains the trunnion tower that supports the movable bascule span. This pier also houses the machinery needed to move the bridge. We have completed the southern section of the pier, and it now supports the operational southern bascule. The focus is now on completing the northern section of the pier, which will support the northern bascule.  

Workers have formed and poured the northern portion of the reinforced concrete pier cap.  

In an image photographed from overhead, four workers create the reinforcing grid of metal bars that will be embedded within the poured concrete to form the pier cap. They stand and kneel atop the gridwork before the concrete is poured. The movable bascule span is shown at left, the waterway at the top of the photo.
Installing the pier cap's grid of reinforcing bars (December 2021)

After the pier cap was formed and poured, we formed the machinery platform and rear walls and installed reinforcement. 

A vertical concrete wall, not yet permanently set in place, rests against a steel structure coming from the cement pier under the bridge. Grids of rebar lean against the wall. Long metal rods prop the wall up so that it doesn't fall over onto the blatform that supports it. The drawbridge span can be seen above the pier at the top of the photo.
Rear pier wall being formed (December 2021)
Two workers on an outside platform over the waterway and under the bridge place 6-foot sections of vertical rebar around a rectangular section of the platform. Another worker pulls a rope attached to a metal wall about 8 x 10 feet in size that is suspended over the platform on a chain.
Workers begin forming the machinery platform and front wall (December 2021)

Movable Bascule Span

We conducted controls testing of the southern bascule span. To ensure that the bridge functions properly, we tested it under normal operations, as well as under a variety of other scenarios.

The movable bascule span of the drawbridge is shown at center and is vertical. Controls can be seen on the platform below. , perpendicular to the water below it. Commuter Rail tracks run down the center of the vertical span
Testing the bascule span (December 2021)

During testing we made fine adjustments to software, machinery, and other components of the bascule.

Two workers in fluorescent jackets kneel outside as they make adjustments to metal span locks. Red electrical cables run from the lock mechanism to a metal power box.
Workers make adjustments to the span locks (December 2021)
The photo aims upward into the center of the bascule that pivots to allow movement of the drawbridge. A horizontal cylinder connects two large round cogs at left and right. A small machinery room is located below the cylinder.
Bascule rack and machinery room (December 2021)

Upcoming Work

  • Signal system testing
  • Continued construction of the northern section of Pier 2, including completing the pier’s rear wall, front wall, and side wall
  • Delivery and erection of the northern bascule span assembly

For More Information

If you have questions or comments, please email the team at

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