N Washington Street Bridge Construction Underway; Public Receives Updates at North End Meeting

November 29, 2018
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An informational meeting was held at the Nazzaro Community Center in the North End Tuesday night to update the public on the North Washington Street Bridge, which now has a shorter construction phase of four years and six months.

As previously reported by the Patriot-Bridge, the construction plans now include a temporary bridge, which will get rid of a stage of construction that would require one lane in each direction on the bridge in August 2019.

Nathaniel Curtis of Howard Stein Hudson said that the temporary bridge is “an innovation that gets rid of that one-lane stage” and will have two inbound lanes, a single outbound lane, and a sidewalk. The bridge will expedite construction of the new bridge by approximately six months, reduce nighttime lane closures, provide a new public playground away from the active construction site, and reduce the number of major traffic and pedestrian shifts from five to three.

JF White, the contractor for the bridge, will construct a new playground and dog park, according to Curtis. He said that the design, size, and details are currently under development in coordination with the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Curtis said that the new permanent bridge—which will have two inbound and two outbound lanes, a dedicated inbound bus lane, separated cycle tracks, and expanded 19-foot sidewalks—is a “complete street over the water.” He played a video to show what the traffic flow is going to look like on the temporary bridge, as well another one to show the different stages of the permanent bridge construction.

Curtis said that the new duration will have four stages: stage one will be 15 months, stage two will be 23 months, stage three will be ten months, and stage four will be six months, for a total of 54 months of construction.

Right now, the project is in stage one, which goes up until November 2019 and includes the relocation of utilities, removal of the west sidewalk, and construction of the temporary bridge, which is to be completed in the Fall of 2019.

Traffic and pedestrians can expect to be diverted to the temporary bridge beginning in December 2019 through December 2021, with final completion of the permanent bridge in February 2023.

Noise is always a concern for many residents during construction projects. Curtis said that though it is expected that the contractor will work overnight between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as necessary and all stages will require some overnight work, maximum noise levels are specified in the contract. He added that the baseline is measured against existing conditions, and the noise limits will vary across day, evening, and night hours.

A community member said he lives very close to the construction and is already hearing jackhammering at midnight. He said noise is really a big deal for him. He was told that a lot of the work has been shifted to the daytime off-peak, because there can be a delay in work on nights when there are events at the Garden.

“Proactive noise projections are readied prior to work,” Curtis said. He reassured residents that there will be noise monitoring of the project area, and noisy areas will be shielded with noise blankets. In addition, backup alarms will be a softened noise instead of the typical loud beep.

In addition, Curtis said the contractor will be taking “proactive dust protections,” as the community also expressed concern about dust. He said that the contractor health and safety plan includes on-site dust control, with the use of water to minimize the impact of dust. They will also be following all regulations for hazardous materials, as there is asbestos on the current bridge, and a bait and trap program will be implemented throughout construction to control rodents.

Another major issue for people is traffic management. Curtis said that there will be traffic details at major intersections as needed. He said they heard from Charleston residents that they are concerned about traffic along Chelsea Street, and assured them that “this will be actively monitored.”

Regional signage has also already been put out to warn drivers coming from the north and the south about the construction.

As far as other traffic measures go, Curtis said that the Keany Square traffic control will include a left turn lane from the bridge to Commercial Street. In City Square, traffic control will include a “slip lane” from the temporary bridge to Chelsea Street as requested by the City of Boston, Curtis said.

Curtis said that next steps include keeping the public informed via Construction Look Ahead letters, which are emailed to project subscribers and shared on the MassDOT project website. The public will be notified about major operations and night work. He said there probably won’t be another large round of meetings until next fall, when the temporary bridge will be completed.

“That doesn’t mean we’ll disappear,” Curtis said. “If we need more, we’ll do more.”

Any public questions, comments, or concerns about the project should be directed to [email protected]