Though everyone knows it needs to be done, local officials and public safety planners are bemoaning the disruptions that are likely to occur when the state begins a year-long bridge replacement project on Washington Avenue – effectively cutting the City in two.
City Manager Jay Ash said the state Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun to work closely with the City about the upcoming replacement project near City Hall and Central Fire, and will soon unveil official details of the closure plan.
“I had let our departments know so they could start thinking about it, and they are, but we have not received and processed enough information yet to determine the full impact and our plans to mitigate that impact,” said Ash this week. “It should be noted that pedestrian access across the bridge will be maintained throughout the duration of the construction. Yes, in the end, we’re grateful to get a fully reconstructed bridge that will ensure safety and convenient travel over it, and under it for the Commuter Rail and Silver Line. Unfortunately, though, to get there, there will be some short-term operational matters to be addressed.”
Though nothing is set in stone, it is believed that the roadway will need to be closed off for more than a year as construction begins. The project was announced late last year as part of the sweeping Silver Line/Commuter Rail/Pedestrian Walkway project touted by the City and Gov. Deval Patrick.
The bridge replacement will be one of the first items completed in that project.
Fire crews and Police have expressed some concern about response times given that they will not be able to use one of the major arteries for getting to and from the west side of the city.
Meanwhile, traffic will also be a major concern as detours will need to be configured carefully.
Washington Avenue has just come out of a major roadway and sidewalk reconstruction project that ended late last summer. It is uncertain when the bridge project will begin, but some believe it could start as soon as this summer.