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A riveting explanation for why the Longfellow repairs are taking so long

WBUR chronicles all the issues, including the fact that the bridge is a historic landmark right down to its rivets, which means contractors have to use historic methods to rebuild it, right down to the use of 50,000 historically accurate rivets, rather than more modern, and faster ways to connect metal support beams.

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Remember the time two jackasses made $12K selling nearly three quarters of a million in ornate ironwork that once adorned the bridge?

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The jackasses will apparently be paying off the value of that ironwork with their state pensions... after they served a 2 year prison sentence.

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From your link:

The defendants must pay the remaining balance of $458,216 over the next five years.

Do you really think these guys are going to be able to come up with $225k each? Unless they own and are forced to sell their houses it's unlikely they have that sort of cash.

So like always, the state will be left holding the bag.

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The money is bad enough, but they salvaged irreplaceable iron works of art. These types of people are despicable. Heck, these are the types of people that steal the brass grave markers out of cemeteries.

I doubt they'd be forced to sell their homes, but I hope they really, really regret what they've done.

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So the bridge was built in 1907 and "aside from some coats of paints and changes to make room for Memorial Drive" it's been mostly ignored until they had to slow down red line traffic in 2007. One hundred freaking years later. What the hell else is being built today that isn't already falling apart before it's even fucking finished?? The Big Dig tunnel was leaking almost immediately and now has millions upon millions of gallons of water pumped out annually. The Zakim bridge looks nice, yes -- but try leaving it there without any maintenance for 100 years and tell me how great it is.

grumblegrumblegrumble...kids these days and their Autocadd don't even know how to use a slide rule...jeezis christ what a load of crap...grumble grumble...jeezis my prostate is killing me...

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Oh we can still design bridges, tunnels, and buildings to last 100+ years, but that would cost way more than something that lasts 20 years. Try to convince any client (especially the city/state governments) that this is a good idea...

In the case of old bridges the lack of engineering knowledge was helpful because we had to design using proven heavy and expensive materials & methods.

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But if we build it shitty then there are more jobs constantly fixing it and replacing it when it fails.

/Masshole logic

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Previous generations placed greater importance on certain public facilities and built them to last and many with ornate details, not because they had to build that way but because they wanted too. The Longfellow Bridge is just one example and there is a reason it's built out of stone and iron and not wood.

Some others include the Adams Courthouse, the waterworks buildings near Chesnut Hill, King's Chapel, etc. They built a great deal of other stuff on the cheap back then and there is a reason we no longer see those structures.

Surely there were those that griped at the cost to build the Longfellow back in the day but current designs are too budget driven. We need to take a longer view with certain projects. It shouldn't require a designer to convince a client to go the extra distance, society should demand it. Are we going to remembered as clever piggies or just silly, lazy ones?

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In fact - not just old man fact, but fact fact - using a slide rule correctly required that you understand logarithms, and be able to think in terms of logarithms. When pocket calculators came in, the ability to understand logarithms properly went with them. For decades now, kids have been able to use a log function correctly without understand what the hell they're doing. Ask any teacher who came up using a slide rule - first they were frustrated, and then they stopped caring enough to be bothered.

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eh, I've had tons of people in their 60's complain to me (in my 20's) about people using log plots. Clearly, slide rules didn't teach everyone about logarithms and their proper use; and there are many young people who constantly make use of them to show growth on the correct scale rather than claiming "growth is accelerating off the chart!!" when really it is constant x% growth.

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It's ridiculous that the repairs/reconstruction on the Longfellow are taking so long, in the first place. Here's wishing they'd hurry up and finish the job already!

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Historically accurate rivets? Go eff yourself whoever regulatory/governmental body that mandated that.

Preserving the aesthetic makes sense, but be reasonable. Restore the bridge to its former glory using modern technology.

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You may not like it, but it's been on the list of the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.

https://www.nps.gov/nr/faq.htm

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That means almost nothing for requiring preservation of a resource. If the state wanted to replace the bridge, nothing about being on the NRHP prevents them from doing so.

From the page you linked:

> From the Federal perspective (the National Register of Historic Places is part of the National Park Service), a property owner can do whatever they want with their property as long as there are no Federal monies attached to the property.

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But the real question is where did the money come from to repair said bridge?

from http://archive.boston.com/yourtown/news/beacon_hill/2011/04/beacon_hill_...

" She added that the Federal Highway Administration will provide about 80 percent of the $260 million project price tag."

So with Federal monies they need to follow certain preservation/restoration rule, no?

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Yes, I have a hard time believing the bridge "had to be restored using the same technology". Either the author is incorrect, the designers didn't understand the federal requirements for rehabilitation, weren't creative enough, or someone didn't push back hard enough.

I've welded on rivet heads to give the appearance of something being riveted, but never had to actually rivet something (and replaced windows and glass in historic buildings w/o having to use 18th century techniques). And as far as appearances go, 75% of this bridge is only visible up close to boaters - I can understand giving this kind of loving care to the Public Garden Footbridge, which you can actually see and touch, but here? beyond the first row of "spandrel columns"? GMAB!

https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/four-treatments/treatment-rehabilitati...

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And those rivets are made from brittle iron, not that fancy bessemer process.

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I assure you, many people spent countless hours /days/weeks /months trying to convince historic commission that round cap bolts look like rivets. Some locations were approved and many others were not. The delay is more due to that process than the rivet requirement.

I completely agree that historical status should not have governed a project but I think federal money was tied to keeping it historic. want it faster, pay for it all yourself.

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I (lovingly) call them the hysterical commission.

It happens everywhere - When the S.R. Crown Hall at Illinois Institute of Technology was being redone the Miesians were arguing over and 1/8" in the window framing.

What are the 4 approaches? Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction?

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As mentioned above, it's hard to imagine a "modern' bridge being built with a 100 (extendable!) year life span. Newer does not always mean better, slavish idoltry of many to the latest iThang notwithstanding.

I'd say it would make sense to use modern beams if they could have been manufactured so that they:
- preserved the look,
- were as strong,
- were as long-lived,
- were no more expensive.

But lacking any one of those and I think that in this case, the Commonwealth was likely wiser to restore, rather than renovate.

I also suspect that WBUR did not get the story exactly right (what a surprise that would be!) Why? Because I have an old house, and have spent a *lot* of time reading the government's documents on best practices for restoring old windows/architectural detailing, et al for purposes of historical preservation. They absolutely do allow (even recommend) the use of improved materials/techniques - when these offer significant benefits (like much lower cost/easier maintenance/longer lifespan) - without loss of function or aesthetic appeal.

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Rivets are indisputably inferior tech to welding and bolts. There is a reason we do not use rivets anymore in areas from ship building to sky scraper building.

Also per my googling rivets are a liability in earth quakes etc. So not only are we using a more costly method we are using a less sturdy method. Wohoo way to go Boston!

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Look up Liberty Ships and what happened to some of the welded ones.

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Liberty ship failures were related to the grade of metal that was welded, not the act of welding itself. Of course at that time welding was a wildly new concept. It is no longer a 10 year old construction process.

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You are exposing your poor knowledge of geography, dear.

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While yes it is quite unusual for seismic activity to occur in the Boston area dare I say it unlikely it makes sense to use a cheaper building method that yields safer result. It is another argument if the safer option is pricier.

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A 6.0 on the Richter hit cape ann. If it happened today large swaths of the city built on landfill would be flattened. Our condo carries earthquake insurance in the master policy as do I personally. It is a remote but real possibility.

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Dear, you should probably consult with a Geotech and a Structural Engineer before you commence building anything.

We've been upgraded to levels you wouldn't believe.

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Less than five minutes on the google found an abundance of articles/discussions on this topic that state the exact opposite, by *actual* construction professionals and authorities.

One thing I read multiple times is that in many applications rivets are considered better long-term fasteners than bolts. The main reason rivets are not used as much anymore is because on-site labor is $$$ and riveting takes time and manpower.

For you to use the word 'indisputably' is a fallacy of Proof By Balatant Assertion.

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Which is exactly why when modernizing bridges rivets are not removed... oh wait.

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So, no LED lighting fixtures, then?

Boy, just imagine the cost to keep the Citgo sign working 50 years from now if it becomes a historic advertisement.

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n/t

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I wouldn't have guessed it's behind schedule. Crossing it every day, they're always actively working on it, and things have been moving along. Most recently they've demolished the deck under where the northbound track was.

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Ahh yup, it was supposed to be done in about 4 months. I think the most recent estimate has it at completed about 2 years from now...?

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Good Lord. It's a rail bridge w/ traffic and they're rebuilding the deck for bike and pedestrian lanes. While keeping historical mandates.

Why in the world would you think this could possibly take 4 months?

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adding in 4 months from now.

Why in the world did you not use your deductive reasoning to figure that out?

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I have a fondness for the bridge, in no small part because the designer was the great uncle of a friend of mine. My chum just died at 99.

Edward Wheelwright, to my chum Uncle Ned, was head architect of Boston when he did the job. Coincidentally, as a Harvard student, he came up with the wacky, crooked Lampoon building. Good that he'd calmed down for the bridge project.

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a year after it was reported the first time when the 2.5 year delay first made the news.

I ask:
1. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
2. How can one put a dollar amount on the value of history?
3. How can one put a dollar amount on a bridge being out of commission for two years longer than it should be had there been adults in the room when the decision was made?

Well, maybe I can answer the last two:
For the dollar value of history, it's 2 years x however many guys are working it at 100/hr.

For the third one, the cost of needlessly cutting down on the road network is, having driven two miles in thirty minutes from Kendal to Brookline (walking would have been five minutes slower, taking the 1 bus would have been slower than walking--I know, I did that yesterday, taking the red line would have been impossible), approximated by 50 cents worth of wasted gas times five days a week times 50 weeks a year times thousands of people who are stuck in traffic because a critical piece of road is out of commission thereby making buses, trains, and car lanes that much more crowded.

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This is why people bike and use Hubway.

You were a fool to do it any other way.

Kendall to Brookline Village? 20 minutes (used to be my commute).

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Some of us have more than our bike shorts and the asses therein to transport between our places of work and residence. And pardon me for being above getting drenched and/or frozen when the weather ain't so nice.

Edit: And while I'm on this particular screed today:

What makes you think I can shower at work? Maybe I need to be dressed professionally and coming in all sweaty and shit just don't cut it.

On the flip side, what makes you think I'm white collar at all? Maybe I was on my feet all day and maybe I want to be able to sit for the 30 minutes it takes me to get home instead of sweat for it.

What makes you think I'm able-bodied? Maybe driving a personal vehicle is the only option that doesn't take forever.

What makes you think I don't have to work two jobs, the other one being way out in the boonies where I have to drive to, so I have to have the car in Kendal?

What makes you think I don't have people who depend on me to earn a living thus making it damned irresponsible of me to multiply my chance of being on the ugly side of a traffic accident by riding a bike in the dark on a road filled with frustrated people in '2 ton death machines' as you bike nuts like to say?

What makes you think I don't car pool?

Such an entitled attitude you people have, it's honestly sickening the way you assume that what you can afford to do everyone should emulate.

Now as it happens I'm in good health, sit on my ass for a living nine days out of ten and make enough doing it that I won't be making the Sunday Globe's pity pages any time soon. But I did have a bunch of crap to take with me today that no way in hell was I going to carry on the T and it did take me less time to walk to the green line yesterday than it would have to take the 1. In fact, I passed two buses stuck in traffic.

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More projection than a multiscreen theater here ... I don't think anon was saying that you could bike, but that this is what drives people onto bikes - the time savings, and dependability.

It is absolutely what drove me onto a bike (Medford to Medical Area, with daycare pick up and drop in East Arlington and Somerville). The T was just not reliable, and I didn't drive after I no longer had tanks of gases and sampling equipment to haul and was no longer paid to sit in traffic. We had a trailer for the kids, and would leave it at daycare.

Looking at Hubway trips is actually a good way to quantify where the gaps and poor connections and congestion problems are, though. Some people do short-circuit the system that way.

There does need to be a hard look at where people try to get from and to, and some improvements made in public transportation for these shorter runs in areas of the city where there is no room for roadway projects (and where they wouldn't likely work anyway).

I don't have a shower at work, but I'm also of an age and gender that I can get around that. I only have to do "business drag" once in awhile, though. I'm not sure how all the executives in my group who bike pull it off. I see a lot of the top people at the bike rack each morning. I know that there are no showers in the building. I think my boss, who commutes from Brighton, wears a crew cut for that reason.

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you're almost making sense. You should get that checked out.

Unless of course by "hard look at where people try to get from and to" you mean taking away car lanes to make more bike lanes.

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To create the vast majority of the cycling route to Brookline from Kendall.

In fact, the bike paths have been there for 50years.

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Intersections are the rate controlling factor here.

Somebody pointed out a while ago that it doesn't help to put a 6' diameter pipe feeding your shower head.

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and tell that to me again with a straight face. Right after you've told me how many buses you've passed.

If less lanes (like now) means less throughput, then more lanes means more throughput.

Here's an example whose virtue will become instantly obvious to you if had done this Wednesday night like I did: Drop the bike lanes on both sides of the bridge and replace them with a single signalized bidirectional bus lane down the middle of the bridge or a a southbound-only bus lane down the side. Bikes can stay on the road (stupid) or use the sidewalks (like they do anyway). Suddenly, the 1 bus southbound across the bridge doesn't have to be slower than walking and as I keep being reminded on this forum, buses good, cars bad.

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- Two curbside bike lanes aren't as wide as a bus. (Bike lanes next to the curb are narrower than those next to parking spaces.)

- A bus lane on the bridge would have limited benefit. It would only help if there was a queue on the bridge for the bus to jump. And then the bus would get stuck in traffic after that. Often the bridge is mostly clear, but then things pile up once you get to Back Bay or MIT.

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I support this use of time and money IF they workers also have to grow old-timey mustaches.

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