Boston plays hand in bridge game: Would use barges to get pieces of new Long Island Bridge in place

Proposed new Long Island Bridge

Possible before and after, from Mayor Walsh's office. See it larger.

Mayor Walsh's office is filing plans with the Boston Conservation Commission today to replace the bridge to Long Island with a similar $92-million span.

To get around opposition from officials in Quincy - who have proposed banning construction vehicles from the roads leading to the Quincy end of the bridge, Boston would use barges to bring the larger pieces into place for assembly into a bridge that would let Boston build a new campus on the island for people who need drug and alcohol recovery services. The current plans do not, however, include any homeless shelters.

The proposed span would be similar to the one that was torn down in 2015 before it could collapse: One lane and walkway in either direction, with a channel near the middle of the bridge for boats to pass. The bridge would mostly use the old bridge's pilings and supports, which were left in place.

City officials emphasized the new facilities would care for anyone who lands up in Boston regardless of whether they were originally Boston residents. Marty Martinez, the city's chief of health and human services said:

Boston is a healthcare hub, with state-of-the-art hospitals and addiction treatment facilities that draw people in need from across the state to seek care and access a path to recovery. We are proud to offer these inroads to care, regardless of a client's origins, and we look forward to building out Long Island to further support all of the most vulnerable who come to us seeking help and support.

Increasingly furious Quincy officials, however, are having none of it. WBUR reports one Quincy city councilor talks darkly of hidden plans and says a boat should be good enough to get people to and from the proposed campus.

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Spending 100 million on a

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Spending 100 million on a bridge for something like this seems to be bordering on insane.

Spend the 100 million on providing the services needed.

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also insane to think it will

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also insane to think it will end up costing only $100 million. No way, never.

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Double, triple and quadruple these sentiments

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Giant waste of money and the cost is likely greatly underestimated.

The services are needed - pretty sure you could do this at a fraction of the cost in a western part of the city and it would likely take about the same amount of time to transport people there.

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Double, triple and quadruple these sentiments

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Giant waste of money and the cost is likely greatly underestimated.

The services are needed - pretty sure you could do this at a fraction of the cost in a western part of the city and it would likely take about the same amount of time to transport people there.

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I've changed my mind on this one....

The basic buildings and infrastructure are already in place on Long Island for specific services and it might just be the best idea to build a new bridge there. At first I thought it would be a nice park/island but there are already other islands there for people to enjoy for recreation if they choose to do so.

That being said, Boston should just ask Quincy if they would like to buy the island for $300 million and just end it there.

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Who's paying who there? Why

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Who's paying who there? Why would Quincy want to buy an island with service needs and no tax base? Seems more likely Boston could cut a check to Quincy to take care of it.

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If Quincy want to decide what happens to Boston land

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Quincy should buy the Boston land.

Honestly, Pete was offering to practically give the island away at $300 million.

If only Quincy could just come out and admit that they don't want Boston to use Boston's island, at least they would be honest about it.

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Not quite

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Long Island is in the City of Boston.

Moon Island is in the City of Quincy, but wholly owned by the City of Boston. And even Boston residents could understand if Quincy wanted Boston to stop using Moon Island for a shooting range and firefighting practice (which is also used by other municipal fire departments.) But this is about Long Island and the social services provided on that island, which again is in the City of Boston. As much a part of Boston as Readville and Orient Heights are.

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Of course Long Island is part of Boston

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East Squantum Street and Dorchester Street are in Quincy. Boston wants to cut through Quincy using those roads to get to Boston.

Boston wants to use Quincy to get to Boston.

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You don't get it

Nancy knows that none of the people who need help or shelter on Long Island were ever from Quncy and every single one of them was born in Boston and/or presumably hooked on drugs by Boston residents so it's not Quincy's problem.

Do I have that right Nancy?

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and?

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East Squantum Street and Dorchester Street are in Quincy. Boston wants to cut through Quincy using those roads to get to Boston.

Boston wants to use Quincy to get to Boston.

Like they did for how many years prior to the bridge coming down?

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This is the way it works

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Quincy residents heading to anywhere on the North Shore have to use Boston's roads. And in exchange, Boston residents can use Quincy's roads when they need to.

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What is the real market value

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What is the real market value for the buildings tho?

1-10mill in buildings being serviced by a 100mill bridge?

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How many acres are you giving away?

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Land ain't free. To duplicate the compound on land would cost a great deal more because of the cost of that land.

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Guessing here.....

If you started from scratch you could build a multi-building facility for $250-$300 million. If you renovated what you have you might be looking at $50 million with a $90 million dollar bridge?

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I question the motives of...

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... building this bridge. It seems like a way to just warehouse the undesirables out of sight and forget about them. I’m sure the real estate industry likes this bridge idea.
Not to mention the cost to the the environment that busing and ferries will create.

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Guess what

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You are wrong. It worked because the "undesirables" WANT and NEED to be away from the streets.

If you can make one decision in a day that keeps you clean, sober, and healing, rather than confront a barrage of stressors and temptations for much of your waking hours, which do you pick?

I suppose you probably think a vegan diet would cure them, too.

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Dry shelter

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Anchor Inn is a dry shelter meaning you cannot be drunk while there. Pine Street is a wet shelter where they will let you in drunk if you are not disruptive. In the decade I worked there I always enjoyed going out to the island, the views are spectacular. It's too nice to just let it rot away....

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it's not really like that

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I stayed at the shelter and also lived in a couple of programs on the island. Situating these programs on a tranquil island away from the buzz of the city works very well. Boston needs access to these facilities. Ever since the island closed down, the homeless addict situation has declined severely, especially on methadone mile. I can't say if the bridge is worth $100 million but all these facilities are worthless without it.

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Ferries

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$92 million is a god-awful lot of money. I bet for 25% of that figure, they could build a wonderful ferry terminal (a dock) on the island and run frequent service back and forth to the city. The extra money could fund either expanded services or just put it in an account to pay for the ferries for years and years to come.

Using Long Island is a great idea. Building a bridge that's a) expensive and b) Quincy will fight for years, is a bad idea.

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You can't use a ferry when

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You can't use a ferry when the weather is bad, nor if there is a medical emergency and an ambulance can't get there.

The bridge to the island worked before, it will work again.

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You can't get to Long Island when the roads are flooded

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There were storms this past winter that cut Squantum off from the rest of Quincy. The causeway (East Squantum Street) had water flowing down it. Quincy put EMTs in Squantum in case a medical emergency happened when they were stranded.

With the increase of flooding year over year I wouldn't be surprised if there are more days that will put Squantum out to sea.

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What if there's a medical emergency on any other island?

On any day, a visitor to Georges or Spectacle or one of the other islands could break her leg, suffer a heart attack or stroke climbing a hill, or need to be rescued out of the surf. Should any of these things happen, the visitor will have to be transported back to land by boat. What makes Long Island any different?

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Different

Because you don't go to the other islands when the weather is going to be bad. The shelter+ is used every day of the year, and is especially necessary in bad weather. Plus the population of the shelter is more at-risk than the general population.

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I think this has all be covered

But...

1) a bridge is usable in pretty much all conditions and doesn't require payroll to operate outside of plowing in the winter.

2) Quincy can't fight the bridge that effectively if Boston isn't sending tons of equipment though Quincy to build it.

3) They'd better be providing some public access to the island if we're spending $100m on this bridge

4) There really should be a regional payment towards this project as, as we've all said for years, everyone can agree that the homeless and drug addicted are not exclusively products of Boston but rather Boston is simply the place these people end up instead of Newton, Winchester, Weston, Brookline, etc...

Here's a document showing estimate annual costs for running ferries in WA state - http://leg.wa.gov/JTC/Documents/POFCostAnalysis.pdf

It's over $1m annual operation costs for short routes. This Pioneer Institute (yes, I know) shows the MBTA ferries as costing @ $12m to operate annually. https://pioneerinstitute.org/news/study-ferry-service-provide-opportunit...

Ferries aren't cheaper than roads to operate.

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We HAVE talked about this....

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...but I personally have never heard an excuse that convinced me that a bridge is the only solution.

In response:
1) Ferries would work most of the time. How many days do the ferries stop running to say Hull? Maybe 5 days a year, in a blizzard when the homeless mostly wouldn't be traveling to or from the island anyway. What about ambulances? Yes, emergency transport off the island would be slower. But how much slower and how often? We're talking 10's of millions of dollars. Is it wrong to want to consider possible alternatives?

2) "Quincy can't fight the bridge that effectively..." All they have to do is stall, which based on that guy with the burned-out house who won't fix it, is very possible.

3) "They'd better be providing some public access..." I agree, whether it's an expensive bridge or a less-expensive ferry.

4) "There really should be a regional payment..." No argument. Not sure how to bill other cities. I think that's where the state would need to be involved, but then they'd want to "control" the bridge/ferry (and probably have State Police provide security.)

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Ferry service costs

Based on the articles cited above, your annual cost is going to be over $1m just for operation. Then you need to buy a ferry or two and build docks. Let's call that $20m. But wait, those are the costs for passenger ferries not vehicle ferries. So how are goods and materials getting to the facilities - via boat? That's going to add a lot more cost to operations, right?

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This is what I don't think people arguing in favor of ferries...

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realize. The benefit of having a bridge is that....you get a bridge. You can use it. Ferries eventually will have an operational cost that will get to, and surpass, $100mm. Sticker shock reaction to this is a dumb route to take, and ferries are short-sighted if what you're really after is best bang for your buck. But a part of me thinks they already know that, too.

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How far would $100M go for ferry services?

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So - using a few assumptions - if running a ferry costs $200 for each trip back and forth to the island, and 4 trips were made every day, 365 days a year... $100M would give the city 342 years of trips.

Assuming we have absurdly high ferry costs, at $500 for every trip to the island, that still gives the city 137 years of 4 times/day trips, 365 days a year.

Maybe a $100M bridge isn't quite the best solution, even assuming not a penny in cost overrun.

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Maybe that's the problem - a

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Maybe that's the problem - a ferry carrying 30 passengers would cost about $15 per person to operate in my assumption. If thats a GROSS underestimation, are we really saying we can't find a ferry that can operate over short distances for less than, say, $100 per passenger per trip?

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Let's try these numbers

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(I'm just picking these numbers out of the air, but they are meant to be closer to a worst-case scenario.)

Let's say each ferry trip costs $1000 and they make 20 trips a day and run 365 days a year. That's $7.3 million. Let's round it up to $8 million. And new docks run say $25 million. So we're at $33 million for the first year of service (which also would be ready a lot faster than this bridge is going to get built.)

That leaves $59 million we have "saved." Yes that only would cover the next 7+ years of ferry service, but I reject the idea that the only costs going forward for the bridge will be plowing. That's how the old bridge ended up failing, because nothing was spent on maintenance. Steel + saltwater = Rust.

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Tough argument to make

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The previous bridge was cancelled due to not paying for upkeep.

And I agree with the idea of rebuilding the bridge.

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I take your point

but scheduled maintenance of a bridge is way lower than scheduled maintenance of a ferry let along the payroll and fuel costs.

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About the upkeep

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Um, well, er, Quincy sort of blocked Boston on that, especially when Boston went to Beacon Hill to get some state aid for it. Now that Boston is planning on ponying up the cash on its own to rebuild, you get the reaction from Quincy akin to the reaction they've been showing for decades.

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Public private partnership:

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Public private partnership:

Market rate housing and a marina out on the island in exchange for financing the cost of a bridge, new treatment campus, and an endowed public park. Allow people to walk & bike across the bridge again too. The little guard shack is silly. If Boston is concerned about people wandering into the BPD firing range or the BFD training academy a fence can be put up around those sensitive areas.

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How much will the condos cost?

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A hundred million dollars for a bridge to a homeless shelter? The city will hire consultants who will write a report that the homeless need to be closer to city services. A private developer with deep pockets and political ties will build a gated community on the island with beachfront water views and rename the island..

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None of this smells right.

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I'm all for addict services on the island and support a bridge.

However, I'm sensing the long game is to develop the entire thing like that nauseating eyesore Spinnaker Island and move the medical services back to Methadone Mile.

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I'm not expert on the

I'm no expert on the Massachusetts General Laws, and I did poke around and didn't find anything, but I'm having trouble thinking that it's legal for one municipality to completely cut off another from commercial traffic. Yes, they have the right to designate certain roads that way, but every road that leads to a place?

Imagine, for instance, if Hingham and Cohasset banned commercial traffic from George Washington Blvd, Forest Ave, and Nantasket Ave, the three roads leading to Hull. Would that fly?

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Quincy isn't planning on cutting off access to Long Island

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Quincy wants to ban vehicles over a certain size from that stretch of road with exceptions for delivery vehicles. That would cut off access to Long Island for Boston to us the road for backhoes and other heavy and oversized construction trucks.

I'm sure that Squantum residents could apply for a waiver and get one should they want to renovate their own homes.

It's not a major throughway. It's a dinky little road that ends at the guard shack. There's only one reason to go up there - to get to Moon Island or Long Island.

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Yes, that is the reason

why vehicles have gone up there for decades.

This would seem to be similar to an easement where Quincy can't suddenly challenge the right of Boston to access Boston land through a public way.

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None of this smells right.

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I'm all for addict services on the island and support a bridge.

However, I'm sensing the long game is to develop the entire thing like that nauseating eyesore Spinnaker Island and move the medical services back to Methadone Mile.

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Oh no!

More tax income for the city for under-used space! The horror...

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build the bridge with barges

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and put toll plazas on all inbound roads from quincy to pay for it.

lets see how quickly the trolls of quincy back down when they can no longer drive over the neponset river bridge into boston for free.

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Try this on for size ....

I live in Quincy ... in sight of Squantum. I cannot drive to Quincy's borders with any other town in less than 20+ minutes in the morning due to commuters from other towns to the south using my city's roads. Let's put tolls at the Fore River Bridge and other portals to teach them a lesson.

Also, trolls live under bridges; they don't drive over them.

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hey, pay it southward. the

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hey, pay it southward. the whole south shore has had it made for years with no tolls into boston, while the west and north have. time to even the playing field.

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Sell it to Amazon

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Setup a bidding contest between UMASS/Amherst and Amazon HQ2. Perfect location for Amazonians, they won't screw up traffic and can build whatever they want. They also have the money to build a new road that will pass over squantum.

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I can't believe Walsh did nothing about the bridge.

I can't believe Walsh wants to build this bridge.
Walsh doesn't care about those that need treatment.
Why is Walsh spending this money on a bridge when...
Use ferries instead of a bridge.
Why use ferries?

Does anyone else see the pattern of people that argue one way then the other on this issue depending on the date of the Uhub post on this ongoing "bridge" drama?

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My .02¢

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Did you guys know Boston Harbor's islands are considered an archipelago?

Carry on.

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My final comment (probably)

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Both a bridge and a ferry have their pluses and minuses. If we are planning to spend $92+ million on a bridge, I'd just like to hear that the administration actually looked at the ferry option and have them show the public why they decided the bridge was the better plan. If they DIDN'T carefully examine the ferry option then the idea to push ahead with the bridge is highly egregious.

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Volunteers need flexible access to the facility

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Not only clients and service personnel need access to the facilities, but there are a number of regular folks who were volunteering there before the Long Island facility closed.

Did everyone who is envisaging for a ferry instead of a bridge consider how much more challenging it would be for volunteers to get there? Volunteers, unlike employees, are unable to work fixed hours. Having to board a ferry at certain scheduled times would make it nearly impossible for many of the volunteers to get there and get back within a reasonable amount of time.

Say someone wants to volunteer two hours each week, how do the people supporting the ferry idea suppose that these volunteers would find the extra two - three hours that would be needed to access the facility using a scheduled ferry service? What if the ferry isn't running and the volunteer shows up and has to return empty handed?

Perhaps volunteers are not needed any more in the eyes of ferry supporters?

I have been to the island once; a volunteering arrangement fell through because even when using the old bridge, driving there and back was an arduous exercise. Adding in two ferry rides would make it nearly impossible, especially for folks who are not in the south shore region.

Based on just the volunteering aspect alone, a ferry-only approach looks supremely dumb to me. But, of course Quincy folks will employ every excuse there is to scuttle the bridge - no surprises there.

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A point to consider but doesn't break the camels back

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even when using the old bridge, driving there and back was an arduous exercise. Adding in two ferry rides would make it nearly impossible, especially for folks who are not in the south shore region.

Sounds like it was a pain to take the old bridge. If you're not in the South Shore, bridge or ferry will still be a pain.

I'm advocating 10 ferry trips a day, so basically hourly. That shouldn't add hours to a trip there. If you live in Quincy, yes it will be much slower. If you live in Brookline, it'll probably be quicker.

Again, I don't have 100% rock-solid answers, but I fear that Walsh doesn't either.

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How do second and third shift

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How do second and third shift workers get there and back? Swim? A ferry is way too expensive.

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My final comment (probably) also

Personally I think the ferry solution is worse than the bridge BUT I tend to agree with others that really these services and shelters should just be located in the main part of the city. For example, partially at the Shawatuck.

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ferry vs bridge, etc

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From what I read back when the bridge was closed, ferries were declared an untenable option due to the size of the facility and the legal/insurance requirement that emergency services (fire, ambulance) be able to access the island quickly with their specialized vehicles when needed with such a large population.

Regarding the cost, I also heard that a lot of the facilities on Long Island had recently been renovated at the time the bridge was closed (can anyone confirm this one way or the other?). This would have made the closing particularly frustrating, as a lot of money had just been invested, and perhaps explains in part the mayor's willingness to invest more in the bridge.

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No way this bridge is being built just for Chernobyl lite

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I agree with Eddie and some of the other comments above, Walsh is not building a bridge for the small number of people served on a vast island that resembles present day Chernobyl. This smells like Boston 2024.

Nearly every major building out there was dilapidated long before the bridge closure, that's why it took only minutes to evacuate the place. I'm sure independent inspectors (not under control of the City) would have condemned the shelter years ago also. The smaller addiction programs used slightly newer, small buildings but served a tiny number of people.

Walsh will front the money for the bridge then be "shocked, shocked" that none of the city buildings are salvageable. Then a connected developer will "generously" agree to build a new shelter on a tiny, obscure part of the island in exchange for a 99 year lease on development rights worth billions.

Don't believe the Boston-Quincy battle either. Fake news. Walsh and the Quincy Mayor are best friends, even co-hosting a fundraiser for a fellow Dem this month. Quincy will settle quickly for a piece of the pie. Follow the money, as always.

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This.

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O-FISH-L wins. Summed up exactly right.

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