Groups move to save Northern Avenue bridge - and not just by dumping its remains in East Boston

The Fort Point Boston Blog reports on efforts by the Boston Preservation Alliance, The Friends of the Northern Avenue Bridge and the Fort Point Neighborhood Association to make sure the now unusable bridge is eventually restored.

The city recently filed a plan (3.3M PDF) with the Army Corps of Engineers to carve the bridge into six pieces, then float those to the Chelsea River, where they would be put on supposedly temporary pilings off 338 E. Eagle St. in East Boston, while the city figures out what to do with the old pieces even as it builds a new car bridge over Fort Point Channel. City officials have expressed interest in using at least pieces of the bridge somehow, but have yet to release a specific plan for what happens after the bridge is moved to East Boston.

People have until March 1 to comment on the city proposal; the blog provides a template for people who think the bridge should be restored rather than just left to rot in the Chelsea River.

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FNIMNTAP

I'm going to start a group called Friends of Not Inducing More Noise, Traffic, and Air Pollution.

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This bridge is a huge waste

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This bridge is a huge waste of money. I haven't heard any reason for it other than "GE asked for it". It certainly isn't going to magically make traffic better. And there are already multiple bridges crossing the channel. One is even just half a block away. If they insist on making a new bridge it should be pedestrian only again. It connects the Harbor Walk, after all, emphasis on the word walk.

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The Barking Crab

Despite the never ending construction of buildings around the Barking Crab, it's still tucked away back there, and I'm sure they'd like the bridge to be walkable.

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The Barking Crab is almost

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The Barking Crab is almost literally under a bridge with a separate walking area already.

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Yes, we definitely need to

Yes, we definitely need to restore pedestrian/bike access, and connect the Harbor Walk again. A new, simple bridge doesn't need to be expensive either!

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I disagree

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The traffic coming out of the Seaport at rush hour is terrible right now, and only going to get worse over the next decade. I see it as I drive into South Boston every night on my commute home. The Northern Ave bridge can/would separate the traffic trying to get downtown or onto 93N, which would still use Seaport Blvd, and local traffic trying to get to the rest of the waterfront, to Charlestown, or onto Rt. 1. Those heading south are not really impacted in my estimation.

As well, congestion does not scale linearly with capacity. There's an inflection point by which you start to hit the accelerator on congestion with only small incremental increases in load. If you can sever the traffic you can distribute the load and possibly keep from taking an hour to get out of the Seaport.

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Spending this 100+ million on

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Spending this 100+ million on improving public transportation into the Seaport would be a much better use of resources than another car lane over the channel. Make the bridge pedestrian and high occupancy transit only. Cars are highly dangerous and laughably inefficient and should not be encouraged downtown.

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The city government

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The city government management and employee culture is stuck in the 1950s. It doesn't help that most of the city leadership and employees live in the mostly annexed suburban parts of the city.

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Plenty of people in the

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Plenty of people in the southern annexed neighborhoods would LOVE LOVE LOVE if we could get real transit.

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If only...

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If only there were a metallic bus route that could connect employees to a massive rail station nearby.

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If the traffic is bad now,

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If the traffic is bad now, how will adding another bridge solve the problem not just that is there today, but as you say, the problem that will get much worse over the next 10 years as full buildout comes to the Seaport. The only way to really make that area work is to stop adding so much parking with every project and spend the millions that are apparently available for a new bridge (100 million) and the helipad (10s of millions?) and use that to expand public transit in the area. Ideally not more buses (even if they are painted silver and underground) since those go under 10mph for much of the trip.

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It SHOULD be a pedestrian

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It SHOULD be a pedestrian bridge.... it would also help get pedestrians off the other bridges, which would probably positively effect traffic.... but there's no federal money for pedestrian bridges, while if they say cars will be traveling on it, they have access to federal funds. It's ridiculous. Write your Senators and complain about the lack of support for balanced infrastructure.

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Pedestrians on other cities

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Boston can be behind the times sometimes, but both of the neighboring bridges have sidewalks.

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I meant, for example,

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I meant, for example, theoretically people drive slower and more cautiously when there's peds walking alongside them, so if they were all taking a nicer more walking-friendly bus it'd be win-win for both.

If they can make it a ped/biking (with separated lanes), that'd be even better.

You have to sell these ideas to drivers or they're going to just demand even more bridges.

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UMMMM speaking as someone who

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UMMMM speaking as someone who drives as a primary mode of transportation, how is building a bridge going to improve traffic when there's another bridge 500 feet away????????

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Put it on a barge and get it

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Put it on a barge and get it to the Prolerize in Everett. Spend all this free cash floating around and buy the Post office and move them out of South Station and expand the train terminal. That is job one, and job two is to seize Widett and expand the rail infrastructure, Then you can have some breathing room down there.

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I hate the damn thing

I know I am in the minority around here. but I absolutely hate that damn bridge. Its an ugly rusting piece of junk. When I travel the country or to other parts of the world, I can't help but look at their bridges and think - look at the junk we are trying to preserve. I mean, just look at what the rest of the world has.

Dublin.

London

Singapore

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bridges

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We have the Zakim and the North Bank bridge over the tracks. Are you saying that nothing old should be kept?

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Some things deserve to be kept.

The Longfellow comes to mind. It is an iconic, historic bridge. It is a bridge most people recognize and was built with aesthetic in mind.

The Northern Avenue bridge was built cheaply and with utility in mind. It was never meant to be an iconic bridge. It is known more for its dilapidated state than anything else. Hold a picture of it up to anyone in the city and I can tell you few could name or locate it.

It served a purpose. It has outlived its usefulness. The cost of preserving it would cost more than replacing it. It is simply not worth it.

Replace it with a much cheaper pedestrian bridge if we really want to replace with a new bridge.

Or let the people who want to preserve it, fund it themselves.

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North Bank Bridge is a fine example of a nice bridge

Sadly most people have never seen it, let alone used it.

Something similar to replace the Northern Avenue bridge would be fine in my book.

At $26 Million is a bargain compared to replacing or repairing the Northern Avenue bridge.

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Those bridges look like carnival rides...

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I don't understand why bridges have to look like objets d'art all the time. The Northern Ave. Bridge has the simple, if faded, elegance of an urban bridge.

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Grampa Simpson

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"Now the Northern Ave. Bridge...there's a bridge you could set your watch to!"

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Yup. When I see this bridge

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Yup. When I see this bridge and think about people trying to "preserve" it, I think of stuff like this you see in people's front yards in New England backwoods areas:

IMAGE(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/21/33/1e/21331e1409847a28c4ef899093f9c7cb.jpg)
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/21/33/1e...

Yes, very historical. Very worth preserving, especially with public money. Maybe once this bridge is preserved we can get some of these hillbillies to donate their classic cars here to add to the bridge's period ambiance.

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Bridge of Flowers

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I know, way west of Worcester, so not really worthy of consideration, but it does show what you can do with a hulking old bridge.

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If Rose Kennedy Median Strip is any guide, we will get an eysore

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That is a great example and a great bridge. But yeah, I dont see Marty Walsh allowing anything that interesting in Boston. Look what we got when the artery came down, we were promised 3 museums along a pedestrian friendly linear park from north station to south station. Over a decade after construction was complete, we have a median strip interrupted by highway ramps and exhaust vents.

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Have you actually walked along the Greenway?

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Because it's a bit more than a median strip these days.

As for the museums, please, one was a joke from the get-go (quick, who's in the Mass. Horticultural Society building in the Back Bay these days? Hint: Not the Mass. Horticultural Society), one was incredibly iffy from the beginning (was there a great demand for a museum about a city full of museums?), the other, well, turned out building a museum on top of a ramp from an underground highway is really, really expensive, imagine that).

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A median strip is a median strip

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They can plop all the merry go rounds and chlorine smelling fountains (not to mention a Chinatown park that is drug deal central) they want on the Greenway, but it' still a relatively narrow strip surrounded by traffic on both sides. It's lipstick on a pig.

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Have you ever visited the Back Bay?

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If you ever do, go over to Commonwealth Avenue. It's a road with 2 travel lanes in each direction serving as a major route into town. There's a pretty fancy median strip in the middle. So no, not all median strips are equal.

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Median strips

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I know it's an unfair comparison, but the day the tacky Greenway looks like the elegant Commonwealth Ave. Mall is the day I become a Greenway fan.

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Yes, I worked a block from

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Yes, I worked a block from there for years and still go to the area a few times a month. Its not much of a destination, like Millennium Park in Chicago or the High Line in NY. How many visitors to Boston ask you "Can we go the greenway?". Its a fine place to eat lunch if you are already near, but a destination? No. And I don't remember all those caveats about the museums when we were told the "Big Dig- Worth the Wait" on the signs along the construction I passed every day from the subway to work. It said future site of museums. Not future site of museums if private groups pay for it, unlike the highway which we all have to pay for whether we use it or not. 2 of the museums and the promised Y were always slated to be on the ramps, because the state promised the ramps wouldn't be exposed. They still are but we are moving on to the next big dig, in Allston, already with promises of open space and pedestrian "accommodations" to the community that will never be fulfilled.

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Cars

Interesting image of old cars. Your image also illustrates

a) Yes, if you restored those cars they would actually look nice

b) If you had maintained them properly all along, they wouldn't be rusting hulks and would still look nice today.

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Now that's a bridge

Interesting all your examples are very nice bridges. The replacement bridge we have falls under the 'pretend I'm not a bridge at all' style construction. If the bridge had been built to look more interesting, I wonder if there would be less support for the Northern ave bridge...

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We should build an elevated

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We should build an elevated bridge-like structure from each direction, North of Boston, South of Boston, and West directly to the Seaport area. Large, publicly financed parking garages with reasonable rates could be built, with helipads on top for VIPs.

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People love to drive

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Take the money and build a 100 car parking garage near here. There is a dwindling amount of places to park your vehicle here. And pleaee no bullshit comments about people don't drive here.

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