Bridge to Wonderland

Wonderland bridge

Kris Haight photographed the new pedestrian bridge between Wonderland station and the beach in Revere.

Posted under this Creative Commons license and in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.

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Thanks

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I thought it was pretty neat myself ;)

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That looks pretty cool, a lot

That looks pretty cool, a lot like a mini Zakim.

When can we get one of these from downtown to Eastie? Seriously, though. I'm not an engineer, so I don't actually know how feasible it would be, but in my mind a pedestrian bridge can be built exponentially cheaper than a vehicular bridge because it doesn't have to support tons and tons of weight, nor would it have to be as large. Am I way off? I realize a bridge in the harbor would have to be really tall to allow ships to pass under, but seriously i'd love to be able to walk to Eastie, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

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Feasible to get to Maverick

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Feasible to get to Maverick Sq. to North End on a pedestrian bridge. Boat traffic is the huge issue, especially with the CG right there, but I would think a pedestrian bridge (which costs a fraction of what a motor vehicle bridge would. THIS WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN EVER but I always thought it to be a really awesome idea. I've been drunk downtown a lot, and lived in Jeffries Point, could see my apartment, and NEEDED to take the T one stop to Maverick from Aquarium. A walking bridge would make that neighborhood amazing, instantly.

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As High as the Tobin? Yikes!!!

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To provide the necessary shipping clearance, a pedestrian bridge would need to be as high as the Tobin Bridge; despite the stunning views it would offer, it would be pretty scary to walk across!

OTOH, there already are pedestrian walkways inside the Callahan and Sumner Tunnels; they just need to be upgraded a bit with better access at either end. Better yet, close one lane of traffic in one of the tunnels and create a nice bike and pedestrian pathway across the harbor.

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Why are there no busses to East Boston?

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"OTOH, there already are pedestrian walkways inside the Callahan and Sumner Tunnels; they just need to be upgraded a bit with better access at either end. "

Is it actually legal to just walk through the Sumner/Callahan Tunnels on those walkways? In all my years going through there, I've never seen anyone do it. Not that I would, breathing all those fumes can't be good, which is why walking through the tunnel is not a feasible way to get from downtown to East Boston. What is amazing is that there is absolutely no bus (not counting the Silver Line which goes to the airport terminals only) whose specific route it is to take people from downtown Boston specifically to East Boston, as an alternative to the Blue Line. Even the busses that run from Haymarket to the North Shore don't stop in East Boston, they just go through it. Years ago there used to be a place they stopped, if you asked them to, on McClellan Highway, but they can't do it anymore as a sidewalk was put in and there is no place for the bus to stop.

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Illegal Yes, But Some People Have No Alternative

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This topic was discussed here recently. Yes, pedestrians are officially prohibited from walking through the tunnels, but after 2:00 when the T isn't running, the price of a taxi (if you can get even one) can be too steep for low-wage workers who just want to get home after a hard days work. I sometimes see people trudging through the Callahan because they have no other safe and practical way to get home; the alternative route is miles longer and much more treacherous.

The tunnels have massive ventilation systems and with the light volume of traffic in the middle of the night, the air quality is probably cleaner than walking along a regular outdoor highway. The only thing standing in the way of having a sanctioned pedestrian and bike route through the tunnels is political disinterest.

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There could be one coming

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They are currently planning a new silver line branch that would stop at Airport Station instead of the terminals and then would head into Chelsea. This would finally connect Eastie to Southie and the Fort Point channel and may give faster access to the T depeding on how long it would take to get to South Station.

I'd love a bus that would leave from Maverick or Airport and use the tunnel to go to Charlse/MGH. It would drop off right at the station and head back into the tunnel to East Boston. I've heard that the main roadblock to this is that the bus would spend a few hundred yards on Storrow, which is DCR controlled and they don't allow buses. Can anyone confirm that?

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This still doesn't solve the problem entirely

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"They are currently planning a new silver line branch that would stop at Airport Station instead of the terminals and then would head into Chelsea."

There's a little more to East Boston than Airport station and then onto Chelsea. Couldn't this proposed bus make stops at a few additional places in East Boston? Especially late at night, I would hate to have to walk home from Airport Station. The part that exits to East Boston proper (as opposed to the part that exits to the Airport itself) is very desolate. That pretty park the "green space" people clamored for that the station exits to is quite another story at night.

Could attach it to the Tobin

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A new tall pedestrian bridge to the North End would be amazing, but they could also attach a pedestrian bridge to the Tobin to connect Chelsea to Charlestown. This would provide a much shorter Eastie/Dowtown connection by bike than going all the way to 99, but it would still be a little long by foot. Since it would use the Tobin for support, I'd think it would be a fraction of the cost of a new bridge. They'd also need to put an overlook at the top with a hubway station for Freedom Trail walkers to finish off their tour with a great view.

Lovely Now, But Think About February!

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A stroll over the Tobin Bridge sounds lovely this time of year, but just imagine how it'd be during February in the middle of a blizzard! A proper pathway through the Callahan Tunnel would still be cold, but protected from the ice, wind, rain and snow; people could use it all year 'round.

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I want both!

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Good points Elmer. They could make the Tobin version a big clear tube to help with public safety and protect from the elements, but the tunnel idea is easier. They'd probably have to patrol often or install cameras to make people feel safe walking through a dark tunnel, but it would be a quick way to make a huge difference for East Boston dwellers. We can use the tunnel for walking and a Tobin add-on for biking. Perfect!

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How would a pedestrian

How would a pedestrian platform off of the Charles bridges work? For example, on the Harvard Bridge, hang? a four or five foot ped only platform and use the existing sidewalk as a cycle track. In my mind, this structure wouldn't need to support much weight and would easily increase ped/bike capacity on the bridge without mingling them with vehicular traffic.

A high-level pedestrian/cycling bridge is not forthcoming.

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I am a skilled cyclist. I weigh 200 lbs. I ride all winter long. I have had multiple opportunities in an earlier job to be on the Tobin Bridge outside of a vehicle.

I am confident that there are at least 10-20 days per winter when I would be either blown off my bike if I were riding on the Tobin, or at least, would temporarily lose control of it due to wind-loading.

The only way that this could even be considered is if the entire passage were enclosed, and I just don't see anyone going for that because of (at least) cost and public safety concerns.

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Why can most of the NYC

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Why can most of the NYC suspension bridges have bike/ped paths? The weather isn't that different there.

Tobin Bridge Is Twice As Long

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With a length of 11,906 feet, the Tobin Bridge is twice as long as the Brooklyn Bridge (5,988 feet) and more than twice as long as the George Washington Bridge (4,760 feet). Furthermore, the Tobin Bridge doesn't exactly begin and end in the middle of bustling destination neighborhoods.

BTW - Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a nice day is one of the most delightful experiences you can have in New York City. The wide promenade, high above traffic offers spectacular views; it's a bridge that doesn't treat pedestrians as an afterthought!

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A vertical-lift bridge across

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A vertical-lift bridge across the harbor would be easily possible. No large ramps required. The only issue would be if it got stuck or if it hard to open too frequently for scattered large ships instead of well timed convoys.

The city could do something like the Ponte Vecchio
IMAGE(http://images.placesonline.com/photos/2571_firenze_ponte_vecchio.jpg)

or Ferris' skyscraper bridge
IMAGE(http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqiq7smN7W1qe4fdro1_400.jpg)
on the causeways leading up to the vertical lift section to pay for the cost of construction, maintenance, and generate a lot of tax revenue with new waterfront properties.

That would be one sweet bridge to walk or drive across the harbor on too. A 21st century waterfront Newbury Street.

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It's Absolutely Fabulous / Build One at City Hall Plaza!

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I've been using this bridge to bike to Wonderland Station since the day it opened; it's absolutely fabulous!
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/img_5845.jpg)
The bridge and associated plaza are intended as part of new Transit Oriented Development around the station. The parking lots are to be replaced with multi-story mixed use buildings that connect directly to the plaza between the bridge and Wonderland Station.
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_5600.jpg)
From day one, people of all ages seem to be enjoying walking (biking, skateboarding, etc., etc.) across the bridge and enjoying the spectacular views; it's really a very lovely public space!
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_5981.jpg)
Now... build a bridge like this connecting Boston's City Hall plaza with Faneuil Hall!

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City Hall - Faneuil Hall pedestrian bridge

has been repeatedly proposed since the 1960s -- I think it was in the original plans for Government Center. The last proposal got killed during the Menino administration -- the mayor wanted it but a lot of people (including the pedestrian lobby WalkBoston) did not.

One objection is that it would create a new elevated structure downtown just as we have removed a bunch of others (elevated Orange Line, elevated Green Line, Central Artery, Charles station pedestrian bridges). It would also likely cut off the view between the Old State House and Faneuil Hall.

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Very Shallow Thinking

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I seems like very shallow thinking for groups like "WalkBoston" to dismiss any notion of elevated pedestrian viaducts. It's as though all they can think of are the poorly designed examples of bridges with awkward multiple-switchback approaches. Of course, when it takes five times longer to walk back and forth stupid ramps than to cross the span, people will reject the bridge. When highway engineers design pedestrian facilities, they're thinking of cars first and people only as an annoying afterthought.

However, the Wonderland Bridge has no switchbacks at all; it's a straight line, the shortest distance from the station to the beach. The top of City Hall Plaza is comparable to the top of the new Wonderland Plaza, so instead of walking down the imposing set of stairs to street level a bridge would carry pedestrians straight across the street. Rather than cutting off the view, a bridge like this would offer a new set of sweeping views of the area, allowing people to leisurely stroll across, oblivious to the vehicular traffic below. (which would also flow better without the need for crosswalks!)

Charles/MGH Station should have been built with pedestrian bridges connecting directly into the MGH buildings that were constructed at that same time. The Science Park Station should have been rebuilt directly across from the Museum of Science with a switchback-less pedestrian bridge over the McG/O'B Highway and straight into the MOS. A lot of the vehicular traffic delays at Leverett Circle are caused by the pedestrian crosswalks and the large number of people walking (the unpleasant route) from the Green Line to the MOS.

The Bowker Overpass should be demolished and replaced with new (switchback-less) pedestrian/bicycle viaducts across Charlesgate, separated from the dangerous vehicular traffic there. It's a lot cheaper to build and maintain bridges for bikes and pedestrians than it is to build bridges for vehicles!

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The Museum of Science HAD a pedestrian bridge

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But it was removed during The Big Dig / Green Line Realignment and never came back.

Given the number of pedestrians - especially kids - who cross there, it's kind of nuts. But hey, somebody probably didn't like to see the "unsightly" bridge while they drove past in their car, so it had to go.

Leverett Circle Bridges Clumsy, But Functional

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The Leverett Circle pedestrian bridges were clumsy, but they were functional. There were no marked crosswalks or pedestrian signal phases, and those bridges remained in place until the the Big Dig construction there was just about completed.

I remember when the new ramps and tunnel underneath Leverett Circle first opened; the backups coming from Storrow Drive and down the McG/O'B Highway virtually disappeared! The relief was nice, but short-lived. The pedestrian bridges soon came down in favor of at-grade crosswalks, and the resulting increase in signal times returned the traffic backups to being just as bad as it was before.

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Sand Castle Festival

Made for a great spot to watch fireworks during the Sand Castle Festival and even a nice place to relax or enjoy something picked up at a food truck.

I remember the first weekend the plaza was open, people were amazed. Comments such as "Where did this come from?!" and "This is awesome!" and "This place is so cool!"

I think think they went overboard on the bridge, though. How much did that thing cost...

Oh, yes

Oh, yes, trust me, I heard all about it when everyone in Revere started yapping about how Markey keeps naming things for his parents... without an ounce of public input or preceding knowledge, as well.

Probably not much at all

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It creates a direct link between the station and the beach in an otherwise sketchy-to-walk area.

It also rests atop existing structures for all but the last small stretch, if you look at the photo. A couple of concrete slabs ramping off the end - could even have been cheaper than other possible pedestrian enhancements in the area.

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No, not complaining about the bridge

I'm just concerned about the over-engineering of the bridge. It just seems a bit excessive to have a mini-suspension bridge. A bridge deck with abutments would have been easier, and more of a plop-in-place type of job.

Honestly, I think the bridge

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Honestly, I think the bridge is part of a plan for Revere to lure development into the Wonderland area. Mayor Rizzo has already boldly called out he wants Kraft to build a soccer stadium there.

There's More To It Than That Meets The Eye (with more pictures)

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As much as I love the bridge, I agree with BostonUrbEx that it's a bit over the top. It was one of those "shovel ready" projects that received Federal stimulus finding:
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_26181.jpg)

More than a "couple of concrete slabs", the eastern abutment has a supporting foundation for the towers and a massive anchorage for the steel cables, but it's unobtrusively hidden underground so you don't notice it now:
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_34581.jpg)

Those were not existing structures; a whole new plaza was built running from Ocean Avenue and across the Blue Line tracks:
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_38311.jpg)
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_46501.jpg)

A large staircase was built descending to Ocean Avenue, and also another on the opposite side of the station.
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_42151.jpg)
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_47301.jpg)
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_45071.jpg)

Several glass-enclosed "elevator towers" are probably the most extravagant items in the project:
IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/img_47351.jpg)

One set of elevators at each Blue Line platform would have been sufficient; the additional two elevator towers seem rather wasteful. They had the money to build them, but will they have the money to keep them maintained properly? I wish the T would spend less on extravagant stations and more on maintenance; too often, they're like a spoiled child with expensive toys that they don't take proper care of.

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Charles Street/Cambridge St MBTA station pedestrian bridge

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How 'bout they put back the God damn pedestrian bridge that was there for what, 70 years, before they torn it down when rebuilding the station a few years ago? There's damn good reasons why that bridge was put there 70 years ago and those reasons haven't disappeared. Crossing that intersecton where something like traffic merges from 6 different directions, in order to get to the station which is now an island in the middle of this maze, is ridiculous. Obviously, they removed it because it was construed as not being aesthetically pleasing. A BS reason, and at the very least if this was the case, they could have built a pedestrian underpass/tunnel. But the bridge could have been rebuilt and made more pleasing to the eye, TPTB just don't give an F, and I'm sure real estate interest lobbied them to tear it down so that end of Charles St would look more pretty and quaint.

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Charles station - ADA compliance

The old Charles station was about as far away from Americans WIth DIsabilities Act compliance as one can get, and those pedestrian bridges with their stairways were a big part of the reason why. The new station is much better in every way. Accessibility is pretty important next to a hospital, wouldn't you say?

Making this personal: I have a friend recovering from a broken leg whom I took to two Esplanade concerts this month. There's no way she would have attended if she had to deal with the old non-accessible Charles station.

The Worst Excuse For Not Making It Better

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Yes, of course, the old Charles Station was not ADA compliant; neither were the bridges at Leverett Circle. But there is absolutely no reason why the new station couldn't have been built with new pedestrian bridges that were ADA compliant!

Just imagine how convenient it would be for your friend if there was a switchback-less pedestrian viaduct connecting directly from the Red Line platform, across Storrow Drive to the Esplanade. Does she really prefer taking the toilet elevator down to the center of Charles Circle and dealing with all the busy traffic at crosswalks?

Wonderland Proves You Can Have It Both Ways

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If someone wanted to go to the exact corner of Cambridge and Charles Streets, then yes, you'd need a switchback (or an elevator like there is at Ocean Avenue at Wonderland). But the corner itself is not a destination for anyone (except maybe panhandlers). Just as the Wonderland bridge slopes very gently down from the Plaza across to the Beach, a thoughtfully designed pedestrian viaduct could achieve the same objective by gracefully flowing from the Station across to the Esplanade, without violating the ADA slope limit.

Instead of starting at the corners of an intersection, pedestrian bridges can be designed to begin their upward slope a half-block away, and/or to connect directly into the second level of another building. It only takes a little more thought and creativity to design something that truly serves the pedestrian traffic between real destinations.

It's a matter of setting the priority. The Charles/MGH Station's top priority was to make an "architectural statement", so that part of the project had the biggest budget. The expensive design with its soaring panels of glass, and extra useless things like adding faux stone pilasters along the Longfellow approach didn't improve the passenger experience at all; it was meant to appeal to drivers in cars passing by. The safety and convenience of passengers using the station came secondary, so there were not enough funds available to include grade-separated access for pedestrians.

Oh, and how ADA compliant do you think those crosswalks actually are in the middle of winter?

Some folks are walking from the station to Charles Street itself

rather than to either the Esplanade or Mass. General. Maybe they are going to the expensive shops on Charles, maybe to the Beacon Hill residential area, maybe to the Public Garden or the western part of the Common. Can an ADA-compliant bridge/ramp serve them, without wrecking the architecture of upper Charles Street?

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Many Possible Alternatives

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  • A gently sloping ramp, touching down somewhere around Savenoir's market, or maybe going into or along the Charles Street Garage.
  • Replace the dumpy little CVS Building with something more worthwhile, incorporating a pedestrian bridge directly into its second level; and from there, provide access down to the street.
  • etc., etc...

Something light and simple, without the need for ugly switchbacks or stairs could blend very nicely into the streetscape, right along the natural flow of pedestrian traffic towards the very destinations you mentioned. You might lose a couple of parking spots where the bridges reach the ground, but you'd gain a couple of spots where crosswalks could be eliminated.

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Phillips Drug

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"Replace the dumpy little CVS Building with something more worthwhile"

Now that you mention it, that CVS really is a pretty awful CVS and the building is dumpy. It was much cooler years ago when it was Phillips Drug Store which was open 24 hours. You had the whole axis of Phillips Drug/Buzzy's Roast Beef/Charles Street Jail...it was quite a colorful area at 3 AM.

Ahhhh.... Buzzy's

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You could get in a fist fight while in line waiting for your beef then go across to get some bandaids at Phillips....