Rebuilding the Longfellow Bridge, Part 2

In 2010, I wrote about the potential redesign of the historic Longfellow Bridge between Boston and Cambridge to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.  This week, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced they were ready to being rebuilding.  Renovation will begin this summer and take three years if all goes according to schedule.  According to the Boston Globe

Through the duration of the three-year construction project, the bridge will only accommodate cars traveling from Cambridge into Boston. Traffic headed north will be diverted to the Craigie Bridge, adjacent to the Museum of Science. The road leading to Cambridge will be narrowed to one lane to allow for bicycle traffic. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2010 The road leading to Cambridge will be narrowed to one lane to allow for bicycle traffic.

For 25 weekends, the Red Line will not traverse the bridge, and commuters will instead be shuttled via bus. The T will continue to run on weekdays, on temporary tracks on the road while workers perform maintenance on the permanent rails.

The traffic flow will look something like this.

Traffic flow from Summer 2013 to Winter 2015

Traffic flow from Summer 2013 to Winter 2014/2015

As you can see, no traffic will come over the bridge from Cambridge.  The alternate route will go over a drawbridge near the Museum of Science which should make for a lot of fun during rush hour.  At least one can take the train on weekdays.

Then some time during the winter of 2014/2015, the closed lane will move to the other side of the bridge, but traffic will still only go from Boston to Cambridge.  There will be more buses to shuttle passengers while the train is shutdown.

Will all of this be worth the disruption?  Something had to happen with the Longfellow – that was clear.  The bridge which was built in 1906 badly needs repairs.  Everyone wanted more accommodation for walkers and bikers.  And the unique salt and pepper shakers had to be preserved so there would be no widening. The towers will be dismantled and rebuilt around a new frame.  The compromise redesign looks like this.

Redesign with one lane traffic to Cambridge.

Redesign with one lane traffic to Cambridge.

No one is 100% happy with this, but as has been pointed out, traffic has dropped since the Zakim Bridge on the interstate opened.

According to the Boston Globe story from last February

The state pulled back on its Longfellow plans in 2010 and convened a 36-member task force that included bike, pedestrian, and environmental advocates, neighbors, and civic and business leaders, whose input contributed to the new design.

“One of the breakthroughs of the task force was to treat the inbound side of the bridge and the outbound side of the bridge differently,’’ said state Representative Martha M. Walz,  a Democrat whose district includes the bridge’s Boston approach and part of its Cambridge approach.

Fellow task force member Richard A. Dimino  said the plan addresses contemporary needs while respecting the history of the bridge. “They’ve made exceptional efforts to ensure that the historic character of the bridge will be preserved, and obviously it’s a landmark bridge,’’ said Dimino, president and chief executive of A Better City, which represents hospitals, universities, financial firms, and other major employers on regional transportation planning.

You can see some of the design proposals and read more about the history of the bridge on my original post.  I will be watching the Longfellow as construction begins.

The Museum of Science, Boston. On the Charles ...

The Museum of Science, Boston. On the Charles River with a view of the Leonard P. Zakim Bridge behind it (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thought on “Rebuilding the Longfellow Bridge, Part 2

  1. Pingback: The Longfellow Bridge, Part 3 or we don’t build the way we used to build | FortLeft

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