A relic of Boston’s industrial past, the Northern Avenue Bridge is reportedly closed indefinitely. The swing span bridge over Fort Point Channel has been used solely for pedestrian access since 1997.
According to the Boston Globe, there’s been no information released from City Hall as to the reason behind the closure though the publication cites an email that was circulated by the Seaport Transportation Management Association which states the bridge is too structurally deficient to continue supporting pedestrians and cyclists.
It’s unclear if, or when, the bridge will be reopened.
This marks the second time Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration has discontinued a bridge’s use, the first time being the sudden closure of the Long Island Bridge which also connects the city to a homeless shelter and drug rehabilitation center. Several of Boston’s homeless were displaced because of the closure and Mayor Walsh hopes to reopen it in three years time.
Along the Charles River, plans are moving forward to reconstruct the North Washington Street Bridge (known colloquially as the Charlestown Bridge) because it too is structurally deficient. The bridge’s steel is so corroded, in fact, that the middle two lanes are prohibited from being used.
According to the Massachusetts Highway Division, a rehabilitation projected was submitted in 2010 that “involves immobilizing the swing span and elevating the bridge 8-to-9 ft. Work includes substructure repairs, replacing the fender system and deck, plus painting the bridge. Structure will be multi-use: vehicular, pedestrian, and commercial.”
If the city were to adopt this project, it would cost an estimated $55.6 million – the lion’s share of which would stem from federal participation.
Until it’s closure the Northern Avenue Bridge swing span still operated, turning 90 degrees to allow for the passage of tall aquatic vessels.
It’s also been the site of some subtly beautiful innovations including small gardens and a revolving LED light show.