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New Northern Avenue bridge would feature a promenade near the water line and a bus lane

Proposed new Northern Avenue bridge

Proposed bridge plaza from city presentation.

Under trusses paying homage to the original span, pedestrians and bicyclists would be able to get across Fort Point Channel on a new Northern Avenue bridge that would include access to a sort of lounging area just above the water, under a plan presented by city officials last week.

The span would also have one lane shared by bicyclists and buses - which the city says could be repurposed as a general traffic lane for when nearby bridges need work done.

Proposed bridge

Proposed promenade:

Lower level of proposed bridge

The current span today - six years after it was shut to pedestrians:

Bridge today

Officials acknowledge the current pandemic and resulting economic collapse will make financing the $100-million project more challenging but still hope to begin construction next year.

Neighborhoods: 

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Comments

Build it.

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Voting closed 26

The Coast Guard and the US Marshalls will lose 8 parking spaces on either side of the bridge.

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Voting closed 12

Either that thing is monstrous or those are very tiny people.

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Voting closed 14

It looks cool and I’m glad it’s designed for people first. If they are having trouble paying for it then just ban all vehicles on it and it will save many millions on the cost. You know asshole drivers would ignore the law and drive on it just like they do in the DTX pedestrian zone.

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Voting closed 28

It will be open to buses only. No private drivers.

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Voting closed 16

It should be for pedestrians and cyclists only: no motor vehicles.

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Voting closed 31

but building it to be able to accommodate car traffic if needed worries me. What happens the first time this gets opened to private drivers and enough of them like that - will the city really be willing to shut it back down? I'm not so sure.

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Voting closed 28

I'm with you on that one. The 'back-up bridge if other bridges need repair' rationale seems contrived to me as well. Given how public space plans seem to either disappear or get downsized in the Seaport, quietly, I don't have a lot of faith that this would remain mainly a pedestrian/bike bridge.

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Voting closed 24

Put in a year round beer & wine garden in the middle of it and use the lease payments to fund ongoing maintenance.

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Voting closed 47

I'm sure it's been discussed, but that entire lower level would've been under several feet of water during a bunch of the king tides and storm surges we've had over the last few years. Landscaping on that platform may not be long for this world. Probably not a reason not to build it, though.

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Voting closed 17

It will be nice to have that area so close to the water. Makes me wonder how long it will be until the BRA claims that it can cut a sweetheart deal with a restaurant or similar private takeover.

I fully expect it to be off limits during king tides and big storms and resilient to both, too, unless it is somehow designed to rise and fall with the tides.

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Voting closed 30

I love it. My only suggestion is to make sure the fence is really high and solid with no openings so that little kids or drunks or zombie apocalypsers don't tumble to their death.

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Voting closed 17

This is attractive and seems to benefit walkers, bikers and shuttle buses. Find the money and build it!

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Voting closed 10

> one lane shared by bicyclists and buses

One lane? So one direction buses? Bikes going in both directions? Why put bikes and buses together? This seems like a bridge for tourists to do instagram shots but not really let people get back and forth to a transit starved area of Boston.

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Voting closed 18

For example, in the morning bus/bike lane on Washington Street in Roslindale.

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Voting closed 26

People who have experienced the 57 line's bus drivers might beg to differ.

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Voting closed 13

Now again haven't had the commute in what 3 months now but I felt like it kinda got better, its def improved dealing with cars there but I've still had a few 57 bus passes just a little too close.

I say this as someone who stopped at the red light once at Linden St. and had a 57 bus blow past me within a foot or so. Super awesome.

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Voting closed 9

If the only way you can do it is to combine bikes and buses then yes, that's a step in the right direction.

But that's still not anywhere close to dedicated bike lanes with no built in traffic conflicts.

The question I would ask is "would I want my kid doing this route on their way to school?"

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Voting closed 9

I think this is a fine solution when you are trying to create something quickly without construction, but for $100 million we shouldn't be saying this is the best we can do.

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Voting closed 7

Buses and bikes actually work fairly well together

As a cyclist, hard disagree. Bus drivers don't want to be stuck behind me in between stops, and I don't want to sit behind them breathing in diesel exhaust at stops. This leads to constant leapfrog passing, and some bus drivers don't seem to realize how long their vehicle actually is and will start moving back over before they've actually finished passing you. This happens all the time.

Based on my experiences, bus drivers have been the absolute worst at sharing space with cyclists. I'd rather tangle with taxis and Ubers any day. I hate this new trend of combining bus and bike lanes.

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Voting closed 8

Why do bicyclists only want to go one way on this bridge?

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Voting closed 6

If I envision this correctly, this project will serve as yet another publicly subsidized motorized entry/egress point for the Seaport on top of the existing five (W. Fourth, Traveler, Summer, Congress & Seaport Blvd.) surface options along with the 93 & 90 tunnel and other seaborne methods both underwritten by Seaport-based corporations and the freestylin' water taxis, oh, and the famous Silver Line. With the added benefit of some nostalgic pedestrian thing random people seem to "love."

Having had to drive across the Northern Ave. bridge in rush hour traffic to get to work I can attest that it was not a loving experience in any way. Yes, it's there in it's lovely glory but it's an unworkable eyesore that should be removed, not replaced when that's already been done with the Moakley bridge.

I'm all for a pedestrian-only solution to this, but we need to use our imaginations and not copy from pictures in the books to smooth over the emotions of those who pretend to live in the past.

And when I read that the "financing the $100-million project" is coupled with the word "challenging" what I'm really reading is a pitch to the corporations in the Seaport and it's clear that: the only way to relive nostalgia for the Northern Ave. bridge is to have major corporations underwrite the project in return for a dedicated private shuttle road that will enable their employees to get to their trains on time while avoiding the soul-crushing traffic that they themselves created. Oh, and they'll thrown in some sort of quaint pedestrian walkway below the diesel-fumed roadworks to perpetuate this "walkable city" fantasy. That's great.

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Voting closed 10

No buses on the bridge. Those will not be Silver Line or T buses, there are no routes there. They will be private shuttles for various companies on the waterfront. No thanks. Keep it pedestrian and bicyclist only and vehicles can use the Moakley Bridge right next to it. Save millions, should be a no-brainer.

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Voting closed 15

I might be wrong, but I don't see that lower level getting a whole lot of use. I'd rather see them save the money it will cost and use it for a promenade at either end where people don't have to go halfway across the bridge and down steps to get to it, and where it will therefore be more handicapped accessible.

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Voting closed 12

Why couldn't the current bridge be opened to bike/walk RIGHT NOW (or with very minor repairs)?

Move the Jersey barriers, get murals painted, clean the place up a little, voila. You're welcome, I just saved you $99m. Put it towards some more pedestrian bridges.

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Voting closed 14

The engineers say it's unsafe at any (walking) speed.

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Voting closed 17

I just saved you $99m

How much money do you think it will save if they reopen a bridge that engineers are saying is unsafe even for pedestrians and it collapses and hurts or kills someone? I'm betting that lawsuit will cost more than $99 million, to say nothing of the harm done to whoever was on it at the time.

(and then you'll have to pay to rebuild it anyway, so...)

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Voting closed 14

If it's really going to collapse, it needs to be demolished ASAP before it kills someone boating underneath. Allowing pedestrians isn't going to make it collapse if it's safe otherwise.

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Voting closed 15

If it isn't collapsing under it's own weight, people walking and biking across don't seem all that likely to bring it down. Maybe they should have the engineers take another look and see if they couldn't make the existing structure fit for walk/bike (NO vehicular traffic) for a whole lot less than 100m.

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Voting closed 9

If it isn't collapsing under it's own weight

A car with no brakes may not have crashed yet, but I sure wouldn't get into it for a ride to the store.

Call me a sucker maybe, but if the engineers paid to study this say it's in danger of collapsing, I don't know that I can say "well it looks fine to me, they probably didn't check it carefully enough". Are you sure you know enough about the standards required for pedestrian bridges that you can say for sure that it's safe to reopen? Would you be willing to bet your professional reputation and the lives of others on that? Why are you so convinced that no one's thought of this before or done any legwork on it?

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Voting closed 13

Sometimes (usually) repairs for structures like this cost more than tearing down and rebuilding.

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Voting closed 10

Is this really the best way to provide public space for $100 million?

The immediate area already has a whole lot of waterfront public space.

I say spend $10 million to build other missing sections of the Harborwalk, and use the rest to renovate neighborhood parks around the city.

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Voting closed 10

The private bus lane is the only thing that will ever be built. As Twitter development commentator @FortPointer notes, "the pedestrian-oriented features ... would be built in later phases, and that they would be dependent on availability of funds. Of course, the private shuttle lane is in Phase One."

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Voting closed 20

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Voting closed 2

It is just me or does the complete lack of actual separation, bollards, or really anything besides paint (what about snow) separating the bus lane from the pedestrians and bikers at the entry points look like a disaster waiting to happen?

Just look at how narrow the pinch point for pedestrians is at Sleeper street. Not to mention the bus swings from the right side of the road to the left side of the bridge while pedestrians have to cross it.

The lack of any bollards on the pedestrian side just screams for drivers on Northern ave to attempt to drive over the bridge. Willing to bet within 5 years of opening the right side opens up to vehicular traffic.

I also agree that promenade will never happen.

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Voting closed 8

I hope if buses are included with this that they are electric only. I would not want to be lounging in an open area that has a heavily trafficked bus route going through it.

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Voting closed 16

As other have noted, the lower level deck will likely never be built. But honestly it’s probably a waste of money anyways. I have a hard time picturing people hanging out there. Half the time I walk across the Congress st bridge to work I have to refrain from breathing through my nose because of the stink that comes out of the channel. It’s especially unbearable at low tide

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Voting closed 10