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Traffic Pattern Changes as Shift to N. Washington St. Temporary Bridge Begins

North Washington Street Bridge Replacement with Temporary Bridge

The North Washington Street Bridge will be entering a new stage where traffic will be shifting onto the temporary bridge during the weekend of July 17–19.

The replacement project for the North Washington Street Bridge (also known as the Charlestown Bridge) was approved back in March 2018 and is estimated to be completed in 2023 with the new bridge including restored vehicle lanes, bus rapid transit lines, separated bike lanes, widened sidewalks, and various aesthetic enhancements.

Now in stage 2 of the process, Nathaniel Cabral-Curtis, Howard Stein Hudson’s Managing Director of Public Involvement, and MassDOT Government Affairs Liaison Donny Dailey provided a progress report on the project.

Temporary Bridge Conditions for Drivers, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians

Beginning July 2020 and lasting until November 2021, traffic and pedestrians will be diverted to the temporary bridge from Lovejoy Wharf.

Although not part of the original plan, the temporary bridge was added to the project in November 2018 to enable three lanes of traffic to continue over the project’s lifecycle, potentially reducing construction time by up to six months.

Two of these lanes will be inbound to Keany Square in the North End/Downtown area, with one outbound lane to City Square in Charlestown.

There will not be a sidewalk on the Boston harbor side of the bridge, but there will be a 8-foot wide sidewalk on the locks side. Plans are also in place to reopen the stairs from Lovejoy Wharf adjacent to Converse.

Drivers of large vehicles are asked to use the right lane when traveling into Keany Square.

Passing on the temporary bridge will be prohibited, with its roadway signage striped accordingly.

Due to the alignment of the temporary bridge, the left turn lane from the bridge to Commercial Street is shorter than under existing and final conditions. MassDOT and the City of Boston will be actively monitoring traffic conditions to see whether the left turn queue is spilling onto the bridge. If this leads to significant delays, modifications may be made.

Cyclists riding toward Keany Square may travel either as a vehicle in the right-hand southbound lane or on the sidewalk. Those riding toward City Square have the option of either riding on the right side of the northbound lane or on the sidewalk.

Traffic Impacts

Traffic shifts to the temporary bridge are set to take place over the weekend of July 17–19. This operation will involve police detail to briefly halt and relocate traffic, along with shifting the barrier during lane closures and openings.

Following the shift, touch-up lane striping and active traffic monitoring will begin. Delineators will be installed at approaches, followed by pavement markings. Outbound traffic to City Square will shift to the temporary bridge during stage two of the process.

Demolition and Boating Impacts

With traffic shifted, demolition of the existing North Washington Street Bridge is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 20, and continue around the clock until November of 2020 to compress impacts to the project’s abutters.

  • Demolition shifts: Running from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Barge positioning and other equipment utilization: 10 p.m. – 7 a.m.

This is with the exception of the southwest corner next to Prince Street Park and tennis courts, for which demolition and construction is set for November 2021.

Demolition will include the removal of the swing span above the navigation channel, which will necessitate the navigational channel closing completely for the safety of boaters. This closure is anticipated to last from July 20 to August 11, except for emergency vessels. Boaters should monitor VHF Channel 13 for further updates.

Third party environmental monitoring will take place throughout the work cycle to ensure state and federal compliance.

Community Feedback

Over a series of Q&A breaks, North End and Charlestown residents weighed in on the project. Noise levels were addressed. Boaters were given clarification on the navigational channel closure, while concerns about the temporary bridge’s left-turn lane were raised relative to emergency vehicle access and overall traffic flow.

Stages 3 and 4 of the project are estimated to span August of 2021, concluding sometime in February 2023.

There will be two additional information sessions. Register here.

Read more from MassDOT here and follow NorthEndWaterfront.com coverage of the bridge project by searching the tag N. Washington St. Bridge. Contact NorthWashingtonStreet@dot.state.ma.us with any questions or concerns.