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Decision on Boston Bridge Rebuild Postponed

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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Continuing a saga of contention, a decision for the first of three city permits Boston needs to build a new Long Island Bridge has been postponed yet again, because the commission whose ruling is needed did not have a quorum to meet last week.

Previously, in late May, officials from Boston and neighboring Quincy were revealed to be at odds when Quincy’s City Council voted to ban commercial vehicles from the proposed construction site for the bridge. The new span would connect the city with a long-term drug addiction recovery center on Long Island, which is part of Boston.

Bridge Proposal

The old Long Island Bridge was opened in 1951 to provide road access to the facility, which was then a hospital. The island more recently held a substance-abuse treatment facility and a homeless shelter, but the bridge connecting it to Moon Island, part of Quincy, 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.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh 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.

Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh 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.

The City of Boston filed a notice of intent with the Boston Conservation Commission in early May, 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.

In late May’s conflict, the Quincy City Council enacted a law banning construction vehicles from driving on roads leading to Moon Island, the location where the proposed bridge would span across the harbor.

Project Meeting

Before the conservation commission meeting late last week, Quincy officials once again asked Walsh to back down from the project. In turn, Boston representatives first faced those from Quincy in June when it came to light that a dozen of the existing piers would have to be reused in building the new bridge. Half of these piers are in Quincy waters, so a permit is required. Currently, the project is slated to cost $92 million and take three years to complete.

A decision regarding the permit was delayed due to a request for more information regarding the 68-year-old bridge piers that would be used to support the new span. Consultants employed by Quincy have expressed concern that the piers may not be stable enough to support the new structure. There is also concern over potential marine habitat loss and issues for Moon Island Road, which would be the only viable route for construction vehicles, cranes and other large vehicles.

As of late last week, the Quincy Conservation Commission had yet again delayed its decision regarding the first of three city permits Boston needs to build the bridge. The commission requires a four-member quorum to grant permit approval, and only three were present at an early-June meeting. Commissioner Jeffrey Graeber was absent from the latest meeting.

Moving forward, Boston also needs to file with the planning board and obtain a building permit for work to be completed on Quincy soil. The city also needs a number of state and federal permits before construction can start.

   

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

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