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The design process is nearing completion for the upcoming replacement of the North Washington Street Bridge (aka, the Charlestown Bridge). Final design issues and construction impacts were reviewed by State and City officials at a December 16, 2015 meeting held at the West End Museum. The complete meeting video is shown above (timeline below).

  • (00:00 in video) Introductions by MassDOT
  • (08:00) Presentation by Boston Public Works Deputy Commissioner, Para Jayasinghe
  • (17:30) Design of the new bridge by Miguel Rosales (Rosales + Partners)
  • (36:00) Permitting and construction
  • (52:00) Public comments

Work is expected to commence in early 2017 with a 3-4 year construction period. The $125 million project is being funded primarily by Federal Highway and State budgets. The general design of the new bridge has not materially changed from what was presented earlier in the year at neighborhood meetings.

The new bridge has a modern “tuning fork” design that takes its cues from the nearby Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge. The existing bridge was built in 1898 and the center span closed in 2003 for safety reasons. The new bridge has been characterized as “Zakim-lite” from a design standpoint. While the Zakim is an interstate bridge, the new N. Washington Street bridge has been designed to be more of a community connection between Charlestown and the North End / Downtown Boston.

With four lanes of vehicle traffic (two in each direction), much of the new bridge span will be dedicated to bicycling and pedestrian access. During construction, the bridge will remain partially open to traffic with 2 inbound lanes and 1 outbound. Once complete, the new bridge will feature bicycle cycle tracks and dedicated pedestrian zones and center viewing areas along the Freedom Trail. Vehicle traffic will continue the existing pattern of merging three lanes from the adjacent Charlestown and downtown intersections down to two lanes in each direction on the bridge itself.

The recently reopened Harborwalk under the N. Washington Street bridge will be closed again during construction. It will also be reconstructed at a higher elevation so that the consistent flooding problem will be resolved. Public Works also plans to reconstruct the existing utilities and pipes under the bridge.

Public comments covered a wide range of issues at the meeting including:

  • Concerns regarding Constitution Marina and other nearby business/community interests
  • Requests for dedicated public bus lanes
  • Requests for cycle track continuation through Keany Square on the downtown side
  • Comments regarding the lack of preservation of the current bridge
  • Closing of the harborwalk under the bridge
  • Traffic congestion as a result of pending area development

Designers have released a 3D animated video with day and night renderings of the new bridge, shown below. At night, the new N. Washington Bridge is expected to be lit similar to the Zakim Bridge.

Image renderings of the new bridge are shown below, courtesy of Rosales + Partners:

More information can also be found at the Public Works project website.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Since this bridge is a notorious pinch point for traffic coming from both sides, what is the logic of not having 3 lanes each way on the bridge? The 2 lanes causes such a frustrating backup, particularly coming from Charlestown through City Square.

  2. Mary (18) I agree. Well, judging from the drawings, they are planning for a wider pedestrian walkway, in addition to benches and trees. They are labeling the meeting as North Washington Street Bridge ‘rehabilitation’….. rehabilitation? strange !

  3. Mary, I too, believe in your comment. Frustrating is putting it mildly. How in God’s name is this
    bridge going to eliminate traffic issues with 2 lanes on each side? There should definitely be 3 lanes
    on each side. I understand Beautification is nice, but the reality is we don’t have room for this kind
    of beautification, bike lanes, pedestrian walks & benches & trees. Are these people in charge of
    this project insane? What happened to common sense? This is one of the most congested areas in
    the city. I also think the side walk at the end of Endicott St. poses another problem and I hope a
    portion of the side walk is removed, making it possible for cars to go straight rather than partially
    turning into No. Washington St. to get over the bridge. I don’t understand how this was ever
    acceptable. It looks very nice, but in reality, it causes a safety and traffic issue. I am sure these
    people designing this project don’t live in the area and are not affected in anyway, therefore, they go
    on with their lives as usual, and those of us that live in and around the area suffer. The pedestrian
    lane and bike lane should be ONE. Those that ride bikes will just have to get off their bikes and walk
    over the bridge where the pedestrians walk and then hop back on once over the bridge.
    I want to know who would want to sit on a bridge looking at traffic, inhaling pollution and not to mention
    the noise and beeping horns. The tunnel project is trying to eliminate noise and this project is
    promoting more congestion and more noise. I hope and pray someone sees the light at the end of
    the tunnel and the bridge.

  4. Will they be increasing ferry service from Charlestown during this time? Seems that additional routes to Long Wharf/ Seaport would be very logical in helping those of us who commute from Charlestown get past this construction. I believe that they should add these routes regardless of the bridge construction anyway as it helps eliminate a lot of traffic.

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