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Engineer Questions Concrete Pier Reuse Idea

Thursday, September 6, 2018

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The controversy surrounding the possible reconstruction of a bridge that once straddled Boston and Quincy, Massachusetts, has been reignited by a new report from an engineer hired by Quincy officials, who contends that reusing the old Long Island Bridge piers to support a new span is likely impossible.

David Guess, an expert in concrete durability from the University of New Hampshire, was asked by Quincy to evaluate the existing 75-year-old concrete foundations and concluded that plans to use them to support a new bridge, as proponents of the project plan to do, is "extremely unrealistic."

Long Island Bridge Saga

The old Long Island Bridge was opened in 1951 to provide road access to a hospital that was later converted into a long-term drug addiction recovery center. (Long Island by extension belongs to Boston, but borders Quincy.) The island more recently also held  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.

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. Walsh committed $50 million in his 2018 budget to the project.

Boston Mayor Marty 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.

In early August, a decision for the first of three permits Boston would need to build the bridge was postponed because the commission whose ruling was needed did not have a quorum.

Engineer Report

In response to the report, Chris Walker, spokesperson for the Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, noted that it spoke "directly to the fallacy that somehow these 70-year-old piers that are deteriorating, even to the naked eye, would be able to last another 75 years. (Boston is) clearly trying to do the least amount possible.”

Both Koch and Ward 6 City Councilor William Harris noted that the report only affirms Quincy’s claim that Boston is disregarding the potential negative impact of a new bridge. Gress noted in the report that the concrete of the 1940s is not up to contemporary standards, especially when it comes to air-entrainment.

“Concrete that is not properly air-entrained in a severe ocean New England environment is extremely vulnerable to freezing and thawing destruction and its use will definitely, durabilitywise, be problematic,” Gress said. “It is essential when reusing existing old concrete in an aggressive environment, such as the Long Island Bridge, durability is the primary design consideration.”

A meeting for one of several permits needed to build the Long Island Bridge replacement was held end-of-day Wednesday (Sept. 5). Moving forward, Boston will also need to obtain a building permit from the planning board and a number of state and federal permits before any construction work could start.

   

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

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