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Old 07-28-2013, 08:35 PM   #201
datadyne007
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

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MassDOT is really bad about communicating. When a lane was closed on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge in NYC (which handles much more traffic than anything here) they made sure that it was heard far and wide. I think probably everyone in the tristate area knew about the closure, they were whooping it up as the next "Carmageddon" and all that nonsense. After all the hoopla, during the actual period of construction, traffic levels were lower than usual and it turned out to be easier to travel that corridor than normal.

MassDOT does some outreach community meetings but seems to have no interest in publicizing its plans beyond that.
Every single news station here ran stories about it with bulleted lists/slideshows of closure information for multiple days at multiple times. To say this was not communicated well is absurd.
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Old 07-28-2013, 11:34 PM   #202
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

Maybe they need to pump it up with hysteria to get people to take it seriously. Sadly.
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:25 AM   #203
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

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Maybe they need to pump it up with hysteria to get people to take it seriously. Sadly.
I think it's more that people just don't pay any attention to anything. What does it mean to "pump up hysteria"? They're putting out announcements multiple times a day on local news, stories in the local papers, roadside bulletins placed well outside the city. What more would they do? It's ultimately the commuter's responsibility to be aware of any construction that might impede their way to work. DOT did their job of putting the word out. If people don't find out about it when it's spread fairly widely by several means then, at the end of the day, that's their fault when they're sitting in traffic for an extra 45 minutes.

Perhaps DOT should offer an email notification service that commuters can sign up for and select certain roads/bridges that they frequent. DOT would then send out emails to the subscribers about planned construction, the planning process, the start and duration of construction, etc. Open government yay! Of course, most commuters wouldn't sign up, and we'd run into the same problem. The personal responsibility isn't there. People would rather bitch about the government than take their commute into their own hands.

Honestly the people I feel the worst for right now are bus commuters who rely on Lechmere. Busses have been constantly running very late due to the backups at Museum of Science/Craigie all the way back to Twin City (can we also talk about the HORRIBLE un-synced light cycles that back everything up to Lechmere on a normal day?!). People waiting 40 extra minutes for an 87, only to have every bus arrive changed to a 69 or an 88. The T doesn't seem to have put much of a mitigation plan in place for rush hour until traffic sorts itself out (like keeping busses on layover at Lechmere so if a bus coming from Somerville is running super late, they can launch one right into service on-time from Lechmere).

I still think traffic will naturally diffuse over the next week or so, but again the onus is on the drivers to make that happen. Frankly, people should be getting into the habit of using 93 instead of 28 anyway, since the overpass will be coming down soon enough.

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Old 07-29-2013, 09:05 AM   #204
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

^That is/was my commute exactly. The busses haven't been on schedule in the evenings and that last stretch into lechmere takes so long in the morning now. I have switched to going entirely Kendall red line and walking. I would have been nice if the GLX were on schedule because there would be huge numbers on the Union Sq. section from day one because of this.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:07 AM   #205
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

As an aside (and this is true all the time, not just when the Longfellow's at low-capacity), evening rush hour traffic is almost always worse going INTO Boston from Cambridge/Somerville, both over 28 and over the Longfellow. Outbound's not exactly a breeze, but it's rarely as bad as inbound.
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Old 07-29-2013, 11:48 AM   #206
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

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I still think traffic will naturally diffuse over the next week or so, but again the onus is on the drivers to make that happen. Frankly, people should be getting into the habit of using 93 instead of 28 anyway, since the overpass will be coming down soon enough.
28 traffic has been declining ever since the Big Dig opened. 93 is still bad coming from the north (esp. with the Leverett ramps having that mis-designed lane drop), but the tunnel dropped it below drivers' pain threshold for seeking out an alternate route. The McCarthy can come down instead of being rebuilt and O'Brein/McGrath north of Lechmere Sq. turned back into a 4-lane parkway/street(ish) because it's operating well below capacity these days. Same with Rutherford Ave. The only traffic kinks they have to work out with surface roads are timing the critical light cycles better and smoothing out some weaving traps like the awful McGrath/Medford St. football field-wide intersection.


As for the bridges and the need to have multiple construction projects going simultaneously...blame the MDC for never maintaining its spans at any point since the river roads, Emerald Necklace, and north-of-Boston parkways were first turned into high-speed parkways in the 40's. Literally every bridge on the entire Charles Basin is up for replacement at the same time and holds similar life-and-limb danger. MassHighway's deferred maintenance era was never ever as bad as the MDC's, and we're paying for it now. The Arsenal St. bridge is up next after all the signature spans downstream are done. And then the N. Beacon bridge. This is going to be happening for the remainder of the decade. Probably two at a time. The Longfellow just happens to be the single most painful and complicated job of the whole lot.
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Old 07-29-2013, 04:19 PM   #207
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

Wonder if creating an inbound bus-only lane from Twin City Plaza to Lechmere would help keep those buses on schedule? I don't think you'd even have to lose many parking spaces.
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Old 07-29-2013, 06:20 PM   #208
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

You could just take one of the many unnecessary travel lanes there, although people turning right on Third would be a problem.
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Old 07-29-2013, 06:42 PM   #209
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

An alternative might be to reroute the buses onto Medford and Gore streets.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:26 PM   #210
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/..._shift_to.html

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Work on the Longfellow shut down one side of the bridge, starting July 20, barring motor vehicle traffic from Boston to Cambridge, though the demolition work on the other side has yet to begin as officials wait out a “two week trial” to determine if the traffic diversion causes major problems. The closed roadway has been virtually empty while transportation officials gauge the success of the detours.

So far, it’s working out well,” said DePaola, who said there have been no issues with emergency vehicles getting to the hospitals in the area, the lane closures have improved access for bicycles on the bridge, and the number of police officers directing traffic will likely be reduced after the two-week trial has concluded. Work is currently underway beneath the bridge.
Also: Bowker Overpass slated for 2014 Spring.
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Old 07-30-2013, 05:15 PM   #211
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

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Too bad the St. Mary's Street Bridge to Vassar Street was removed for BU and the Dartmouth Street Bridge through Back Bay was never built. Having either of those additional crossings would have made a big difference in alternative routing for traffic. Though I imagine both those bridges would have been in the same sorry state as the others if they existed today.
If those bridges were here, they'd already have filled with traffic pre-Longfellow closing. They would be of no great use in easing the problem.
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Old 07-30-2013, 05:54 PM   #212
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

IIRC the St Mary's St bridge was just a temporary structure for the (re?)construction of the BU (nee Cottage Farm) Bridge. Which brings up the question of why a temp bridge wasn't an idea here.
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:50 PM   #213
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

Yes it was basically a "pontoon" structure connected to the street which used to exist where Marsh Chapel is now (I want to say it was also called Essex Street but I can't find the reference).
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:41 PM   #214
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

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IIRC the St Mary's St bridge was just a temporary structure for the (re?)construction of the BU (nee Cottage Farm) Bridge. Which brings up the question of why a temp bridge wasn't an idea here.
It would have to be a pretty tall structure to interface with the roads on either side, whereas the temp St. Mary's bridge was lower to the ground than the RR bridge. And I'm pretty sure what they constructed that Cottage Farm re-route with was little more than wood stumps and whatnot that could support the weight of 1920's cars for no more than a half-dozen years. Anything temp augmenting the Longfellow would have to have substantial pilings sunk in the river silt to support the height of the span and weight of all that traffic. The construction of those pilings of which would kick up massive amounts of contamination in the silt...so containment would be a nightmare. Plus what do you do with the Red Line?


Temp spans have their place for prefab highway construction and when there's bedrock stable enough to anchor it without heinous expense (i.e. temp Fore River Bridge), but it just doesn't work for more than a pretty narrow range of circumstances. If anything on a main thoroughfare in the Greater Boston area has be able to carry the weight of end-to-end stopped traffic (nevermind trucks in stopped traffic), it's going to be too expensive to construct one with that weight baseline at any kind of acceptable cost.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:40 PM   #215
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

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Which brings up the question of why a temp bridge wasn't an idea here.
I don't know how you could do that and maintain Red Line service.
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Old 07-31-2013, 02:30 PM   #216
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

There are limits to how much slope a subway train can climb or descend. I bet your proposal would exceed them. Not to mention that Charles station platforms extend out onto the bridge.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:16 AM   #217
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

I walk from Kendall to my office in east cambridge every day and been paying particular attention to the traffic on the longfellow. Today at about 845 there was no backup. Monday it was pretty tense. I think the reshuffling of traffic has begun.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:51 AM   #218
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

around 6:15 last night, the cars were backed up all the way over the bridge into Cambridge.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:00 AM   #219
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

The bridge has been partially closed for almost two weeks now...I've probably gone over or around it ten times but I haven't seen anything happening. How is this okay? It's infuriating (but not surprising) to me that the state would close the bridge but not schedule MAJOR work immediately. I don't know if it's just poor planning, but it makes no sense. I can't help but feel like this project would be done in a year were we in China. There would be five hundred workers and a fleet of heavy machinery at work around the clock. The same bullsh*t happened during repairs to the sagamore. You would go over the bridge and there would be one guy up in a harness with thirty guys on the ground...and then they would leave and keep their crap there all night so the traffic still backed up.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:09 AM   #220
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Re: Longfellow Bridge update

They delayed major work on purpose to make sure they did not create an unacceptable traffic situation. If they immediately started irreversible work, then they would be screwed if they wanted/needed to retool the traffic flow. Major work should begin shortly. This is 3 year project -an extra 2 weeks of traffic disruption seems like a reasonable risk mitigation.
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