Longfellow Bridge to fully re-open at 5 a.m. on Thursday for first time in years

Longfellow Bridge Wednesday afternoon

Longfellow on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by MassDOT

MassDOT reported tonight that all lanes on the Longfellow Bridge will be open for business tomorrow.

The work began in 2013 and was originally planned for complete in 2016, but unexpected problems delayed completion of the overhaul project.

The bridge was built in 1907 and had its last major renovation in 1959. It sits on the path of the West Boston Bridge, built in 1793.

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Dumb question: Is the bridge

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Dumb question: Is the bridge not symmetrical (structurally, at least) across the line dividing the two red line tracks? If so, how is this arrangement being done?

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Drivers make up a small

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Drivers make up a small percentage of those who cross over the bridge yet they are given the most space by far. Another example of why drivers are resource hogs.

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Careful

Some might call you an anti-car zealot for using provable facts like that.

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Time is a resource too

To fairly measure how much of the bridge each transportation mode is using, you'd need to multiply the space allocated to each driver / subway rider / cyclist / pedestrian by the time they spend occupying that space.

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then cars LOSE

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Because cars take up the space of 10-15 cyclists.

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So is clean air

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The impacts of automobile travel are known and not fully borne by automobile users.

You don't want to get into this. You will lose.

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That's a good point

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That's a good point. Usually when I bike over the Longfellow at peak hours, it takes about 2 or 3 minutes. When I've made the mistake of driving, it is sometimes more than ten minutes.

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"small percentage"

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Do you actually have numbers to back up that "small percentage" claim?

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I'm questioning that, too.

I'm questioning that, too. Seems like cars are constantly using it during the day at least. Maybe the T carries more but I'd bet motor vehicles are a big chunk of the crossings.

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Nope

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More bikes per hour at rush hour than cars per hour.

300 cars vs 500 cyclists

Transit carries the most people.

Private cars suck space and they are limited by the bizarre intersection that they wind up in.

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A couple minor quibbles, but...

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...firstly, the MassDOT web page you are referring to was created a decade ago, since which time auto traffic has certainly increased much more than mass transit (just to be clear - imo, not a good thing).

Also, the relevant passage says "the bridge presently carries 28,000 motor vehicles, 90,000 transit users, and significant numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists each day". Since the mean number of passengers in the autos is certainly greater than one, the fraction of bridge users who are in cars is probably closer to one-half than to one-quarter.

I think any advocate for bike use should be cautious about making arguments for how much road space should be allocated to a particular mode based solely on current traffic numbers (or even reasonable future projections), as that would probably mean cyclists would have to cross the Longfellow whilst balanced atop the pedestrian handrail.

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Bridge repairs started in 2012 I believe

And its been severely limited in capacity since that time so any real data would be from 2012 or before, which is a bit closer to when that data was published.

If you're gonna make the claim that a significant number of automobiles on the bridge have passengers, you need to provide data.

Someone above pointed out (without citing data) that "More bikes per hour at rush hour than cars per hour. 300 cars vs 500 cyclists." I agree, you don't dedicate space based solely on traffic numbers. But thats not the argument here, Kinopio posted about the obscene amount of space we dedicate to cars at the expense of other modes of transit, both on the bridge and elsewhere, based on economics, safety, mobility alternatives and yes, numbers.

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Hey, I know something about this!

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Back in 2013, I counted the vehicles on the bridge. A lot.

In the morning peak, there were about 800 cars crossing the bridge at peak hour inbound (the state's counts back from 2005 are of a peak of about 1200 vehicles per hour, for a single hour, with <1000 per hour the rest of the day) and about 25,000 total passengers. That's the capacity of a single Red Line train, and the T can usually manage to get at least a train across every hour. Traffic counts across the bridge haven't changed appreciably since the '70s (although more people are taking the T).

Between 2013 and 2014, when the bridge closed, there was a 33% increase in bicyclists, to nearly 400 per hour inbound in the morning. The number of vehicles decreased from about 800 to about 400, so there were times when there were more bicycles crossing the bridge than vehicles. And that's with a not-great bicycle facility back during construction (similar to what we have now). With something better, maybe more people would take a bike (a Blue Hubway, or whatever) than call an Uber.

I counted pedestrians, too, and there were about as many as bicycles. Cars, at least with a single inbound lane, accounted for only about 40% of the bike-walk-car split.

Of course, at that time of day, the T schedules 14 trains across the bridge and runs about that many on a good day. Six cars per train, 150 people per car, that's more than 12,000 people taking the train across the bridge at peak hour in each direction, or about 10 times as many people as are crossing by bicycle, car and foot combined.

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Bicycles are vehicles.

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Bicycles are vehicles.

And a Red Line train does not hold 25,000 people.

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Maths is hard

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He didn't say in each train.

He counted up the number per car, number of cars per train, and service interval in each direction.

But you hated story problems in school so Ari must be wrong.

Go back to the 5th grade curriculum frameworks - you need to catch up.

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No, deciphering misplaced

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No, deciphering misplaced antecedents is hard.

I think "that" is supposed to refer to 1200 cars? Which means 1200 people is the capacity of a Red Line train, so one train per hour equals the maximum road capacity for an hour, and the train comes out ahead if they run more than one train per hour? Maybe?

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Width of bike lane?

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The graphic indicates that the bike lane is 5'6". But the bollards are installed on the inside of the white line. Does anyone know the actual distance in the field between the inside of the white bollard and the inside of the guard rail?

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Bollards suck

They eat up 1' of the lane. This morning as I was riding over a woman stopped her bike to take a photo and it was a pain to pass her.

Plus they won't plow the lane in the winter.

The bridge is the safest place to ride even without the bollards since cars can't turn. The intersections at either side are far more dangerous but they're the places without bollards.

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Are those even "bollards"?

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I am not a traffic engineer, but my understanding is that bollards are: (1) much more robust structures that are firmly anchored into the ground (and not frangible); and (2) designed to prevent vehicles from going past them and crashing into valuable things (e.g., people or buildings) on the other side. Is that totally wrong?

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They would stop nothing

If a drunk or distracted driver veered toward a rider the plastic polls would do nothing.

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...or if a drunk/distracted

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...or if a drunk/distracted rider veered toward a driver I doubt the plastic poles would do anything then, either.

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To be fair, from time to time

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To be fair, from time to time people cycling need and/or want to stop riding... you have to be prepared for this by being aware of your surroundings even if you feel it's inconvenient to you. Not everyone is riding to get from point A to point B. Some may ride across a bridge for the sole purpose of taking a picture of the Charles. Rental bikes are everywhere: they invite tourists to bike; tourists frequently stop to look at local attractions. City residents also ofteb stop and admire a beautiful view. That's life in the big city.

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The issue isn't not being

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The issue isn't not being aware of other cyclists stopping. It's that the plastic poles make it annoying to pass another cyclist.

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To be fair ...

IF you are going to stop and gawk, walk the bike on the sidewalk portion and use the bump outs to take in the views.

Stopping in the lane to take a picture is no different than a motorist stopping in a travel lane and getting out to take a picture.

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However, it's a travel lane

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However, it's a travel lane (in a roadway) for bicyclists. Just like driving a car, you can't stop because there's something you'd like to look at. You've got to be mindful of what may be coming up behind you.

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Citation please that cyclists

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Citation please that cyclists are not allowed to stop while riding in a bike lane.

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It's legal to stop

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but if someone is doing it for a bad reason, I reserve the right to call them a jerk.

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Same as any vehicle in any

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Same as any vehicle in any travel lane. You can't stop and stay if the road is clear ahead -- it's obstructing traffic.

Why would anyone defend this behavior? How would you feel if a cyclist protesting something or other decided to block the bike lane?

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Yes!

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Yes!

...and as for citation, start with the state Driver's Manual - there's some good stuff in there about stopping.

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The basic structure looks

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The basic structure looks symmetrical. The layout/use of the surface is not.

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2 lanes inbound for emergency vehicles

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There are 2 lanes to Boston to accommodate emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, to get around other vehicles to get to Mass General.

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Fully open, but not finished

I took an architectural tour on Tuesday with the designer, Miguel Rosales. There is still a lot of landscaping and lighting work to do over the next few months, including the construction of new parkland, walkways, and stairways at both ends. The new adjoining Frances Appleton Bridge will take pedestrians and bikes over Storrow Drive to the Esplanade, and that is very much still under construction.

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Did anyone on the tour

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talk about when the graffiti will be removed? As of this morning, it is still present and with the ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow, it is unfortunate. It has been there for close to 1 year now. Or perhaps it is part of the bridge's new "art" installation?

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When is the ribbon cutting ceremony?

I didn't know that was tomorrow. The architect gave me the impression that would wait until the project was completed, including the adjoining Frances Appleton bridge.

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Don't worry

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The graffiti isn't going to leap off the wall and touch your car.

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LOL!

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What a wise ass you are! Sweetie pie, I take the Red Line every morning and/or walk over the bridge. (Gasp - I have even rode a, wait for it, a bike over the same!) I have never driven into the city as part of my work commute. In fact, way back when, I was one of the early bike commuters from Norwood to Cambridge, Kendall Square and back, two or three times a week.

I just don't like to see shit like graffiti on a bridge or any other structure.

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Every time one of these

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Every time one of these continuing in-progress projects cleans something up as part of their restoration work, some @^&@%&# says to themselves: "Great! A blank canvas for me!"

I've been in this part of town more in the last two weeks than I had in the last year and was interested to walk the bridge a couple of times. I saw some graffiti a week ago on the completed granite and metalwork, and even more on top of it just two days ago.

There must be a balancing point on the community quality-of-life "broken windows" scale between protecting/cleaning everything ASAP when damage crops up and being able to afford it. What are they going to do - post guards, install video cameras, and sandblast weekly?

File it under "this is why it's so difficult to have nice things" - a few people are asses and spoil it for everyone else.

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I hear ya.

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You are correct. Perhaps it is a loosing battle. But because some folks think it is "art" and/or like to tag things for various reasons, it would be nice to see it removed from time to time. No, it does not make sense to post an armed guard, sandblast weekly, or whatever, but it would be nice to have it removed before a ribbon cutting ceremony, don't ya think?

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Not so much a losing battle.

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Not so much a losing battle. Certainly an important and worthwhile one overall. Just unfortunately impractical to keep doing while construction work still going on.

They seemed to be working on the bridge right up through yesterday, so maybe now they will clean up. Or - maybe they wait until all the rest of the work is done, like clearing out the construction trailers and temporary fences and stuff like that at the ramps, stairways, and riverbanks.

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Deter?

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Deter?

Sorry... just had a mental image of some borderline James Bond/Batman/scifi chemical that would be transparent for the intended railing color, appropriate characteristics like smoothness of the surface, could survive the wide range of temps the bridge is exposed to (at least -20 to +120 F), inert & nonreactive with anything else in the bridge environment, but - instantly reactive to spray paint pigments & aerosol propellants, such that it would instantly sublimate in Sarin nerve gas (okay, Sarin would be a little excessive... maybe just tear gas). THAT would be a deterrent!!!*

More seriously...

I think there are some paints or coatings that make it tougher for paint to adhere to it, therefore would be a little easier to clean off. So for a railing, maybe it would be quicker/easier to clean off than put another whole coat of paint on top of the graffiti. I don't know if there's something equivalent for concrete or granite surfaces - other than blasting or a lot of scrubbing.

* only half joking about the noxious gas option. There's some precedent (well, precedent in my twisted mind, somewhat more tenuous in normal minds....). Back when I lived in NJ, the state DOT was having trouble each winter with people who'd go out on the rural interstates and cut down evergreens for themselves or go into the Christmas tree business. I don't know where they came up with (or borrowed) the idea, but they solved it by spraying any likely areas each December. It was a pretty much inert, harmless chemical coating, that didn't affect the health or appearance of the tree, that would wash off over the course of a winter's wind/rain/snow, but it would do one thing: Heat it to around 68-70 degrees F (like if you brought said stolen tree into your living room) and it would stink like a skunk. Problem solved.

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Deter

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Deterrence for graffiti "artists" amounts to "anything that prevents my bowel-like letters from sticking". There are coatings for murals that do just this - the spray paint doesn't stick, and the "artists" go elsewhere.

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You mean

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Especially if I was a massive construction firm.

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it would not surprise me if...

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...next week MassDot announces the start of a 3 year project to completely overhaul the ramps leading to/from the bridge. Enjoy the bridge while we've got it!

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When is the northbound Red

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When is the northbound Red Line speed restriction going to end?

Southbound has been a quick, smooth ride for several weeks.

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