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Initial Questions About North Washington Street Bridge Project Answered at Neighborhood Council Meeting

Jeff Dietrich led a community chat at the April North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) meeting to answer questions about the North Washington Street Bridge project and encourage residents to attend the upcoming public meetings.

Thursday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bunker Hill Knights of Columbus in Charlestown.
Thursday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Nazzaro Center in the North End.

Jeff, who works with Public Involvement Specialist Howard Stein Hudson, welcomed initial questions from the Council and attendees at the NEWNC meeting, as well as provided an overview of the current project plans. Watch the meeting video and follow along with the text below.

(2:00) For the most part during construction there will be two lanes going inbound to Boston and one lane going outbound, with the exception of summer 2019 when it will be one lane in each direction for about a month.

(2:40) Temporary pedestrian bridges will be installed so people have access throughout construction. The entire process should take five years.

(3:20) The traffic impacts occurring now are similar to what will be happening during construction.

(4:10) The new bridge will have widened sidewalks on both sides, a separated bike lane, a widened bump-out scenic area with benches, two travel lanes in each direction and a dedicated bus lane inbound to Boston.

(5:12) A concerned resident asks if anything will be done to improve the crosswalk at North Washington Street and Thatcher Street. Jeff mentioned there will be police detail at crosswalks within the project limits, but will have to check if Thatcher Street can be included in this detail.

(7:25) Carmine Guarino from the Council brought up the new traffic light at the end of Endicott that is causing a back-up through the North End. The light is only seven seconds long and all the cars have to go into one lane over the bridge. This traffic light is not part of the bridge project.

(8:58) The first chunk of work, estimated to begin this summer, has no traffic impact – it is relocating some existing utilities and pedestrians.

(9:20) There will be signs redirecting traffic to alternate routes throughout the project. As far out as Route 128 there will be signs that the bridge is under construction and travelers should use Route 1, I-93 or the MBTA if possible.

(10:38) The current bridge is 117 years old – it was built in 1898. It’s had three or four major structural updates since then.

(11:54) The pedestrian bridge underneath the bridge will also be raised to plan for future flooding.

18 Replies to “Initial Questions About North Washington Street Bridge Project Answered at Neighborhood Council Meeting

  1. I don’t want to sound Morbid, this Project is going to Cripple the City. Why in God’s name are they only making this Bridge 2 Lanes on each side, when 3 would make it so much easier for the Flow of Traffic. Beauty is very nice, but Function is of Great Importance to me. It seems to me that anyone involved in this Project does not get this. We have to take into consideration this is an extremely High Traffic Area & the best way to go is to get the People in & out as Safely & Quickly as possible. Benches are not a necessity, but the Flow of Traffic is. Strictly my opinion, 3 Lanes on Each Side, Walkways for Pedestrians & Absolutely, Positively, No Bike lanes on the Street for Safety Reasons, the Walkway should accomodate Bike Riders , even if they have to get off their bikes & walk over the bridge until they get to to the end. Where there is a Will there is Always a Way. My Opinion & nobody has to agree.

  2. Joan, respectfully, this city is not for cars exclusively. A lot of people travel by bus, foot, and bike particularly downtown as this location is. Designing a city for cars is something that was done in last few decades and has resulted in choking traffic and pollution, not to mention crappy street designs. We have to think more broadly. 2 lanes in each direction is plenty of space for vehicles while accommodating other users – this is downtown and not a highway.

  3. Rob, I fully understand twhat you are saying. I know this is not a highway, I get that. Like I said in my
    previous comment. This is a Heavily Congested Area & I feel 3 Lanes is much more beneficial to the area.
    I don’t expect the City to design strictly for cars, of course NOT, but to design a Bridge that can only accomodate
    2 Lanes on each side is Insanity to me. The Zakim Bridge is also in Downtown Boston.
    I thinkt the Pedestrian & Bike Lane should be sharing the Space, not the Bike Lane on the Street, with this
    kind of Traffic. I also think it is much SAFER for Bikers to share the space with pedestrians. Traffic is
    horrendous & is only going to get worse, especially with the Casino coming into Everett. Safety, above all
    should be the first Priority & then getting Cars, Buses & Trucks out of that area as soon as possible.
    Rob, like I said this is strictly my opinion & by the way , I travel by foot over that Bridge quite a bit in
    the Summer.

    1. Joan, I think the cake appears to be baked. What I am not seeing a way to change the design. It looks like they are going to start the construction right away. I’m assuming it’s too late for change now, even though the 3rd lane in seems like a practical idea.

  4. It seems to me that engineers and structural specialists have done their homework. We can’t top that. What’s done is done. This project has been in the making for years. Trust that we cannot do better than the experts.

  5. Heather, Experts are not necessarily Right, Look at the Big Dig, that went on for years as well, it is Ourdated,
    and not to mention the ceiling that collapsed in one of the tunnels on the expressway. I can’t remember if the
    person died or got seriously hurt.
    The Experts were also involved in the Pedestrian Walkway in Florida, that collapased.

    T Mobile, You are absolutely right, unfortunately, the Cake is in the Oven & I am assuming there were no protests or
    disagreements at all. They probably left it to the Experts that were involved with the Big Dig.
    Unfortumate for those that have to travel that Bridge everyday, and for those of us that live on each side of
    that Bridge. Oh well, that is my opinion & nobody could ever change my mind.

    1. Joan, in the tunnel collapse a man was driving his wife to the airport.A ceiling panel fell onto the car.Sadly the wife was killed and the husband was miraculously uninjured.

    2. Joan, the collapse of the tunnell killed a woman enroute to Logan. The state had to pay the family a big settlement. This was an issue of a contractor cutting corners and then filing bankruptcy to avoid payment, plus he died too. It was a miserable finale to the most corrupt fiasco in history.

      Bectel Corp was the major architect although the State had oversite and say in the hiring of contractors. This project’s firm appears to be local. Although, it remains to be seen how much control they have ove who implements their design.

  6. T Mobile, Thank you so very much. The Point I am trying to make is so much for Experts. Let us Pray to God
    the contractors are Better than the Big Dig & the New Pedestrian Walkway in Florida (who built the Zakim

    1. Bridge projects have a real tendency to over run. So get used to inconvenience for awhile. If they just hit their deadline that will be a huge win. In reality, they will hit budget constraints. So the pretty picture you see above is likely to look much different that what you see in the end.

  7. Aren’t there only 2 lanes in each direction on North Washington anyway? It doesn’t really matter how many lanes you put on this bridge if it narrows down to 2 lanes anyway. It’s a moot point. I personally like the design synergy with the Zakim’s aesthetic.

  8. Mark B Yes, there are 2 Lnes at the present. Coming into Boston there is 2 1/2. One Lane is for those taking
    the right, one lanes is to go straight, the 1/2 Lane for those taking the Left. The only point I am trying to make
    is if we are making improvements, I think 3 Lanes should be on each side to eliminate Gridlock. I love the
    looks of the Zakin Bridge & I am sure this Bridge will be Beautiful as well, but as much as I love Beauty, my
    concern is strictly SAFETY & More Accessibility for Vehicles. This Bridge will probably look like a Minature
    Zakim, which is great, but realistically, the improvement will be Beauty, and no improvements regarding
    the Traffic. I think we should have a walkway for pedestrians, but No Benches & Trees when we could
    possibly use that space for Vehicles to exit the City safely & smoothly. That’s all.

  9. Joan..Amazing how one common sense comment generated so much response. I have seen many changes of that bridge over the years and here we are in 2018 and the current plans don’t add much more then when I traversed it as a young boy in the 30’s.
    Granted, walking lanes and bike paths are a necessity today, but so is common sense.
    The plans/photo look great and I suspect when completed you will be one to say “I told you so” . Vincent Sordello..North Carolina and former Northender.

  10. Thank you so very much Vincent. God Bless you. I am just crazy about the TRUTH. You are a

  11. Joan,

    As Thomas Jefferson famously said, the problem with common sense is, it is not so common. What North End or Charlestown resident will walk on the bridge and sit on the benches. Tourists and visitors will. This was not designed for the convenience and efficiency of the abutting neighborhoods. I agree with you, more space should have been dedicated and allocated for additional lanes. The bike riders could have shared the pedestrian lanes requiring them to walk their bikes across the bridge, I have sat at the light that Carmine spoke of and wondered what genius is responsible for what residents now have to put up with. One reason why I spend as little time as I do in the city I love!!

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