North Washington Street Bridge traffic shifts from existing bridge to temporary bridge this weekend

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that, as part of the project to replace the bridge between Charlestown and the North End in Boston, crews will move vehicle and pedestrian traffic from the existing North Washington Street Bridge beginning in the evening of Friday, July 17, on to a temporary bridge. The removal of all traffic from the existing bridge will be completed by the evening of Saturday, July 18.

Once traffic has been shifted, work on Sunday, July 19, will address traffic monitoring and touch up of pavement markings in the intersections at Keany and City Squares.

With traffic shifted, demolition of the existing North Washington Street Bridge is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 20, and continue around the clock until November of 2020 to compress impacts to the project’s abutters. Active demolition will not take place overnight between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. will be used to position equipment for the following days work.

The shift of traffic to the temporary bridge will be accomplished in several phases. During the first phase, shown below, traffic heading from City Square to Keany Square will be shifted from the existing bridge to the temporary bridge. The changeover will be accomplished through the use of police details to briefly stop traffic while barrier is removed from the lanes on the temporary bridge and placed in the corresponding lanes on the existing bridge. Once the barrier is set, traffic will resume over the temporary bridge.

Phase 1

The second phase of traffic will repeat the actions of the first for the lanes carrying traffic from Keany Square to City Square. At the end of phase two, all vehicle traffic will be on the temporary bridge with only pedestrians left on the existing structure.

The third and final phase of the shift will move pedestrians onto the temporary bridge’s one sidewalk as shown below. Pedestrians should note that while the one available sidewalk over the North Washington Street Bridge has been on the harbor side of the bridge for roughly the past two years, once the temporary bridge is fully activated, the pedestrian pathway will be on the locks side of the bridge. Once this shift is complete, active traffic monitoring will commence with police details present in the City and Keany Square intersections at peak hours and as needed for at least two weeks.

Once traffic has been completely shifted off the existing North Washington Street Bridge, the demolition of the existing structure will begin. The first phase of the demolition will include removal of the swing span above the navigational channel connecting the Charles River to Boston Harbor. This will require a closure of the channel for approximately four weeks from July 20th to August 11th. The navigational closure will begin at 12:01 a.m. on the morning of July 20th. This is necessary to secure the safety of the work zone and is mandated by the United States Coast Guard. Mariners should monitor VHF 13 with regard to the navigation channel. The work zone at the bridge will be configured to allow the passage of emergency vessels if needed.

The temporary bridge includes two lanes inbound to Keany Square and one lane outbound to City Square, similar to the conditions bridge users experienced during emergency repairs to the existing structure during the summer of 2017. The temporary structure’s travel lanes will be paved similarly to a city street creating a safe surface even during wet conditions. Cyclists may ride as vehicles in the right hand inbound lane or at the right of the single, outbound lane which will be striped with sharrows. Any bicyclist seeking to use the bridge’s sidewalk is asked to dismount and proceed as a pedestrian due to a six foot wide section of sidewalk adjacent to the Converse Store. Motorists using the two inbound lanes are prohibited from passing while on the bridge and large vehicles such as buses and trucks should use the right-hand lane.

Phase 3

Use of the temporary bridge saves approximately two months of construction time and has the added advantage of not needing to keep the existing North Washington Street Bridge open for traffic while parts of the structure are being demolished. For more information, please see: https://www.mass.gov/north-washington-street-bridge-replacement.

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