N. Washington St. Bridge to be Replaced Starting in 2016

Proposed rendering of the North Washington Street Bridge.

Proposed rendering of the North Washington Street Bridge.

After more than 100 years and featured in movies like The Brink’s Job, the North Washington Street Bridge will be replaced starting in 2016 and will bear no resemblance to the current structure.

Para Jayasinghe, City Engineer from Boston Public Works

Department, appeared before the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) on Nov. 6 to show council members what the completed bridge will look like after two-and-half years of construction. The new bridge will feature two lanes in either direction with flexibility to add a third lane.

“The new bridge needs to complement the Zakim Bridge in form and function,” Jayasinghe told the council.

Jayasinghe left little doubt that the current bridge needs to be replaced as the city has spent millions of dollars in the last eleven years to keep the bridge that joins Charlestown to the North End operational.

The new bridge will feature a vault in the middle that will create an open space that people can use as they walk or bike to and from Boston as well having trees and shrubs.

During construction, the access from Charlestown to Boston will be by two lanes while the access from Boston to Charlestown will be limited to one lane.

Presently, there is no plan to flip lanes during peak traffic time.

“There are major issues here, such as access to hospitals and use by emergency vehicles,” CNC President Tom Cunha commented.

Other members questioned why the construction process will be taking so long.  Jayasinghe told members that utilities need to be worked around as well as construction that is going on in the vicinity of the bridge that needs to be coordinated. He also mentioned that new pilings will have to be constructed.

Jayasinghe mentioned that the idea of using a barge to hold and transport material during the construction is an option.

“I love the design,” CNC member Deb Stevens added, but expressed concern over a potential backup on Chelsea Street that is presently running almost 30 minutes on certain days during rush hour.

The price tag for the new bridge will be $90 million and will be paid with the federal government contributing 80 percent and the State picking up the remaining 20 percent. Jayasinghe will appear again before the CNC as the date nears for construction to start.

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