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Boston Mayor Plans to Float Bridge Spans

Friday, May 4, 2018

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Plans to rebuild a defunct bridge in Boston Harbor are taking on a new shape after Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a new approach to the project: floating parts of the new span into the harbor on barges to avoid increased traffic in nearby Quincy.

Long Island Bridge pier
Eric Kilby,  CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Long Island Bridge was demolished in 2015, though 13 of the piers remain.

Quincy residents have expressed reservations about rebuilding the Long Island Bridge, a span that connected Long Island with Moon Island, also in the harbor. Moon Island is connected to the Squantum neighborhood of Quincy by a causeway; Moon Island is the site of police and fire department facilities, and Long Island was once home to a large hospital.

The Original Bridge

The old Long Island Bridge was opened in 1951 to provide road access to the hospital. The island more recently held a substance-abuse treatment facility and a homeless shelter, but the bridge connecting it to Moon Island was shut down in 2014 due to structural concerns, and was demolished the following year. The shelter and treatment center were shuttered because the island could only be reached by boat.

Bridge rendering
Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh

The new bridge, shown here in a rendering, would rely partly on the remaining piers from the defunct span.

Walsh has expressed interest in rebuilding the bridge since its closure, and earlier this year he unveiled a plan to fund the construction project, but was met with opposition, largely from Quincy, where traffic related to the construction—and related to the island’s facilities if they reopen after the bridge is built—would pass through. Walsh committed $50 million in his 2018 budget to the project.

Walsh has stressed that the bridge is an important link that would enable the city to reopen the drug-treatment facility at a time when the opioid addiction crisis is claiming lives at an unprecedented rate.

The City of Boston filed a notice of intent with the Boston Conservation Commission Wednesday (May 2), a step toward the realization of the project. Walsh’s office said in a statement that construction on the bridge could start as early as next year.

Quincy Resistance

Because Moon Island is under Quincy’s jurisdiction, the city will have to seek a permit from Quincy’s Conservation Commission too, as well as state permits. Quincy’s mayor and council have said they’ll fight the bridge project, insisting that while the use of Long Island for a drug treatment facility is a good idea, the city should look to improving water access to the island rather than restoring road access.

Of the original span’s 15 piers, 13 remain intact in the harbor and would be used as the foundation of the rebuilt bridge.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Government; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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