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Old 10-10-2014, 09:07 AM   #1
stellarfun
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Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island



Immediate effect: Boston's largest homeless shelter is closed as well as a large shelter for those in a recovery program.

Long term effect: $90 million and five years to fix the bridge.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/201...QHN/story.html
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:11 AM   #2
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

I might in the minority here... but as many good things as I've heard about the program on Long Island, this seems like a tough pill for the State or City to pony up the cash for right now...
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Old 10-10-2014, 09:17 AM   #3
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

Yet another reminder of how important it is to vote no on Question 1 next month.
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Old 10-10-2014, 10:52 AM   #4
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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This bridge should have been fixed a long time ago,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at a news conference outside City Hall on Thursday, noting that city officials had been aware of the bridge’s deteriorating conditions for years.

He vowed to find shelter for those displaced and said it might be possible to ferry people there in the warmer months. The island, which is off North Quincy’s Squantum peninsula, lacks a proper dock for the winter months.
Serious question: What is the difference?
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Old 10-10-2014, 11:27 AM   #5
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by Justin7 View Post
Serious question: What is the difference?
Dock's too small to take boats that can cut through ice buildup around the shoreline. Zoom in on Google and compare the dock at north tip of LI with the ones at adjacent Spectacle I. and Thompson I. a little bit west. Spectacle and Thompson can take a good-sized tourboat with couple dozen people, and by doing so can keep the docks area relatively free of ice buildup for smaller craft. Long can't take anything much bigger than a sailboat or four-seater speedboat, and because of that they don't get anything large enough or often enough during peak ice buildup to keep the area by the docks clear for all craft.

Boat capacity problem in addition to an ice-cutting problem. I'm not sure how you'd ferry that many people on/off the island to begin with, but it's also not particularly safe to rely year-round on a conga line of small boats that can't run in every type of bad weather. They not only have to fix the horrifying-condition bridge, but need to get some backup with a dock up to spec with the rest of the navigable Harbor Islands. It looks like at one point there used to be a pretty big one right behind the shelter that was torn down long ago.



The politics behind this are ugly. Quincy pols hate Boston having to go through its town to access the island, and Quincy has bitched and moaned during previous bridge rehab proposals about heavy equipment having to rumble up through Squantum to do the rehab. Menino spent more time firing shots across Quincy's bow in the turf war than he did focusing on the bridge repair. It was always going to come down to this exact bridge closure crisis and an expensive state-level bailout before something got done. Petty grievances wouldn't allow for anything else at the local level. It'll be interesting to see how Walsh handles the radioactive relationship he inherited with Quincy over this. Wasn't his doing, but he's got to be the one to rise above it, do heavy-lifting on coordination/mediation, and keep a lid on the levels of civility during a crisis. It'll be a good early test of his skill for statesmanship.
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Old 10-10-2014, 11:35 AM   #6
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

I think the biggest bone of contention is that there is no public access on the island. Quincy gets the vehicles, and eventually heavy equipment but none of their residents (or Boston's) can use it except for services. If Boston would relent and com up with a plan to continue services while also providing access to all, most of these arguements would go away.
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Old 10-10-2014, 11:36 AM   #7
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

This is awful. I suggest MassDOT be responsible for housing the displaced from the shelter. If there were 600 residents who were not unhoused on the island, this timeframe would not even be considered.

Last edited by cozzyd; 10-10-2014 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 10-10-2014, 11:46 AM   #8
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by Semass View Post
I think the biggest bone of contention is that there is no public access on the island. Quincy gets the vehicles, and eventually heavy equipment but none of their residents (or Boston's) can use it except for services. If Boston would relent and com up with a plan to continue services while also providing access to all, most of these arguements would go away.
Exactly. The lower two-thirds of the island are unused and full of abandoned parcels, LI Head Light is at the tip with spectacular views, and there's a good-sized beach there. But the sidewalks and pavement on the bridge are too dangerous for bikes or pedestrians...most of the sidewalk deck is outright gone and looks down into open water. And the weight limit on the bridge is lower than the MBTA buses that have to ferry shelter residents so they have to ration the buses half-full, use one of the non-accessible old high-floor buses without the wheelchair lifts to do that run at lowest weight they can get away with (I hope that driver gets hazard pay for holding breath while they cross), and hold any traffic on either side of the bridge until the bus has safely crossed. They've had to take those extra precautions for over a decade.

You've got a ton of investment opportunities to bring it up to spec with the rest of the Harbor Islands for recreation use if only it were accessible. If they want to keep the shelter authorized-access only, then put the checkpoint right outside the complex. Leaves the whole lower two-thirds of the island to do anything they want...instead of nothing at all.


If the respective City Halls weren't at each other's throats for 20 years over that bridge/road, it probably would've gotten exactly that investment when the rest of the Islands got spiffed up. Big lost opportunity for the dumbest of locally territorial pissings reasons.
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Old 10-10-2014, 11:57 AM   #9
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

Hard to have public access if only one vehicle is allowed at a time on the bridge.
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:00 PM   #10
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

Right in time for winter. Pine street was pulling out its services a long time ago foreseeing this. This is such bullshit. The biggest shelter in the city closing in October. And everyone saw it coming. Wow.

On another level, it's weird and pretty dumb how little access there is to any harbor islands. Long Island should def be open to the public.
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:03 PM   #11
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

Is the summer camp still running? Last few times I've gone by (via the Harbor Islands ferry), it looked like they've still got all the facilities up. It's a shame if they're going to waste.

Also, isn't there some sort of connection between the shelter and Jack Welch? I wonder if he's going to take the cause on.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:07 PM   #12
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

I'd like to see everything except the width of the center span get turned into a causeway, much like Moon Island Road is west of Moon Island. That's a major potential link in a storm surge barrier.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:12 PM   #13
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by The EGE View Post
I'd like to see everything except the width of the center span get turned into a causeway, much like Moon Island Road is west of Moon Island. That's a major potential link in a storm surge barrier.
Have to be made into a drawbridge or swing span for that to work because it would be so much lower to water level. Then you're looking at a 5-7 year closure for painstaking EIS'ing then construction. Instead of 2-year if they hurry up and get an emergency rehab greenlit and funded.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:13 PM   #14
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by datadyne007 View Post
Yet another reminder of how important it is to vote no on Question 1 next month.
I don't want to sidetrack this discussion. But reading the stuff below your post, it seems this bridge is cause by political infighting than lack of funds.

Also to ask, at 90 million - would it be cheaper to build new facilities on the mainland than rebuilding the bridge?
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:14 PM   #15
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by The EGE View Post
I'd like to see everything except the width of the center span get turned into a causeway, much like Moon Island Road is west of Moon Island. That's a major potential link in a storm surge barrier.
Yes! Replace the whole thing with a causeway and a bridge-over-movable-barrier. Perfect chance to start on the flood rejection system.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:36 PM   #16
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by ant8904 View Post
I don't want to sidetrack this discussion. But reading the stuff below your post, it seems this bridge is cause by political infighting than lack of funds.

Also to ask, at 90 million - would it be cheaper to build new facilities on the mainland than rebuilding the bridge?
Just try getting neighborhood approval of a homeless shelter of that size. For the same political reasons, that's still as good as nothing.


There's nothing functionally wrong with having a bridge there. It's the fact that it was in dangerous condition 25 years ago and went totally unaddressed that's the problem. You get what you richly deserve when deferred maintenance gets taken to these kinds of ludicrous extremes. Nothing should ever be allowed to deteriorate to this level without any barest-minimal upkeep.



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Old 10-10-2014, 02:48 PM   #17
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by cozzyd View Post
This is awful. I suggest MassDOT be responsible for housing the displaced from the shelter. If there were 600 residents who were not unhoused on the island, this timeframe would not even be considered.
I don't think MassDOT owns this bridge. I think it belongs to the City of Boston.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:52 PM   #18
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

I'm with the causeway idea. Yes it would take longer and cost more, but it would be 1/3 of the inner harbor barrier and could be a rallying point to get the rest done. Hell, I'd even be fine with them rehabbing the center span in place and just building a causeway on either side. Save the cost of a movable barrier for the channel for another day.

Sea level is going to rise, and if we have to spend money on something in this location it might as well have a greater benefit than just another bridge to nowhere.

As for temporary access, why can't they use the huge pier by the day camp instead of the tiny dock by the shelter? IIRC it was built for construction barges, so it should be able to handle a couple of ferries.
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Old 10-10-2014, 03:35 PM   #19
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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Originally Posted by ant8904 View Post
Also to ask, at 90 million - would it be cheaper to build new facilities on the mainland than rebuilding the bridge?
This. Demolish the bridge, incorporate the island in to the rest of the park, with regular ferry service, and place the shelter and treatment facilities on the mainland.
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Old 10-10-2014, 03:40 PM   #20
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Re: Emergency Closure of Bridge to (Boston's) Long island

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I don't think MassDOT owns this bridge. I think it belongs to the City of Boston.
Correct. Although LI was grouped into the Harbor Islands National Recreation Area upon its designation in 1996. The bridge really should've been transferred to MassDOT jurisdiction then because of the extra regulatory overhead that comes along with it. District management jurisdiction includes the U.S. National Park Service (Interior Dept.), Coast Guard (Homeland Security), Massport, DCR, Mass Water Resources Authority, City of Boston, and BRA. That's a decided majority of fed and state authorities outranking the city there. It's a little bit cheap to stick them with the only bridge in the district...when that bridge was a safety hazard in '96 and everyone knew way back then when jurisdiction was being carved up and money allocated for the rest of the islands that the structure absolutely had to be replaced pronto. Highly selective apportioning there, stakeholders.

It's probably fair that MassDOT via DCR assume responsibility. The city doesn't have to manage one single piece of transportation infrastructure as difficult to maintain as this water crossing. It's outside the bounds of BTD's capabilities when MassHighway and DCR handle all the other Harbor and Charles + tributary water crossings. Unfortunately absolutely no one looks like the responsible party in the blame game and the city has been one of the worst offenders at delaying it with petty political infighting. So everyone's a loser in this fiasco...but mostly the residents with the least wherewithal to affect the situation. Plenty of embarrassment to go around.
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