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Repair work on unfinished North Washington Street Bridge has started; state hopes to open span to vehicles in December, 2023

Diagram showing 'toe cracking' that could weaken the bridge over time

From MassDOT handout

MassDOT officials said tonight workers are busy fixing defective welds on the new North Washington Street Bridge and that they should be done by the end of December, letting non-repair construction resume in January - with a goal of switching three vehicle lanes and sidewalks over from the current temporary bridge in December, 2023.

However, the new bridge won't be fully open until December, 2024, MassDOT officials said at a meeting of the North End/Waterfront Residents Association.

As somebody who has been following the project for awhile explains:

Once the Eastern (harbor) half of the new bridge is complete (December 2023, currently), they’ll shift all of the traffic to that new half (cars, bikes, pedestrians).

They’ll then demolish the temp bridge, and finish construction of the Western (river) side. When that’s done (December 2024, currently), we’ll have two lanes in each direction, plus an inbound bus lane, as well as bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides.

The new, futuristic looking bridge is supposed to provide access between the North End and Charlestown not just to vehicles but to bicyclists and pedestrians - many of them tourists following the Freedom Trail to and from the USS Constitution.

MassDOT officials said work on the new bridge came to a stop after inspectors cracked welds in September, 2021. Ultimately, 52 welds with "toe cracking" were found, both on steel already installed in the new bridge and at a factory, and another 140 spots on the bridge where the welds could similarly fail were identified.

After a year of weld inspections and tests to determine a fix, work began last week to fix the problem, MassDOT said, which will let workers begin new construction, rather than repairs, in January.

MassDOT has two online meetings scheduled for next week to discuss the latest status of the bridge.

MassDOT update on the bridge (5.5M PDF).

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Comments

Maryellen, I just want to say I need your antidepressant wildlife photos. Adam, I need your rhymes to, in some way, make me laugh at all the broken promises. Luv, a daily Orange Line rider. DING DING DING DING DING. WAIT. WAIT. DING DING DING DING AAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!

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Voting closed 461

The article says December 2024. When will the new bridge be ready for vehicle traffic?

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Voting closed 649

The bridge is now supposed to be open to vehicles in December, 2023, but the complete project won't be finished until December, 2024.

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Voting closed 1212

...contract complete March 2025. I'm not sure what the distinction is there.

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Voting closed 568

In December, 2023 (we hope), the new bridge will be open with three traffic lanes and sidewalks. Then, in December, 2024, the bridge will be expanded to two traffic lanes in either direction, a bus lane and dedicated bike lanes.

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Voting closed 345

This new timeline (project complete March 2025) is especially disappointing. The current design forces pedestrians and cyclists to cross 14 (yes fourteen) lanes of traffic to use the bridge. Since construction started, there has been an increase of motor vehicle --> bike and motor vehicle --> pedestrian crashes involving injury - and a decrease of motor vehicle -> motor vehicle crashes.

MassDOT sacrificed vulnerable road user safety for motor vehicle operator convenience. Facing three more years of these conditions is... discouraging.

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Voting closed 1144

DOT overruled their own recommendations to maintain a bike lane in favor of another lane of car traffic.

I just ride in traffic, but I can say that what would be safer for all involved would be to take that second lane going into the North End and use it as a bike lane. This would also reduce the weight loading on the bridge by 1/3 during jam up hours. That second lane really doesn't make much difference in inbound traffic at rush hour anyway. It is just another few feet of place for cars to be stuck in. They can do this in the vast pavement areas in Charlestown. The intersection at the downtown end is the rate controlling factor.

The allotted space for pedestrians isn't even enough for parents with strollers walking kids to school over the bridge to pass each other where it necks down. The Charles River Dam route is utterly impossible for the same reasons. Extremely poor planning - make DOT officials use their "creations" in all modes for a month and they will do better.

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Voting closed 631

are there because one of them is for left turns towards the North End, and the other is for continuing straight towards Haymarket. The protected left turn is only about half as long as the green light for going straight ahead.

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Voting closed 443

I'm not doubting, I'm generally curious, what/where are the 14 lanes that need to be crossed? I don't ride a whole lot down there anymore, so I haven't seen the new configuration.

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Voting closed 928

(I'm assuming they mean...) Seven lanes (or six, and at least one of them very wide) at the Causeway Street light. Seven lanes (or at least that much width of pavement) at the Chelsea St light in Watertown.

Including turning lanes and islands.

The streets have been that wide at the lights for years, long before this work started, right? It's that there is a sidewalk on only one side of the bridge right now, I think.

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Voting closed 582

 

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Voting closed 1233

Dang! I gave away the secret shortcut!

Should have been "Charlestown"

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Voting closed 926

I see what you mean now. I had no idea the sidewalk was only on one side.

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Voting closed 781

Brilliant move guys, who doesn't love two lanes of northbound traffic during evening rush hour leaving the North End shunted into a single lane with traffic merging from Endicott and Commercial Street.

I say two lanes because the BPD officers at the intersection never enforce the bus lane because they're too busy scrolling TikTok on their phones to work.

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Voting closed 747

And then, a year after the three lanes open, they now claim, the bridge will re-re-open with a new configuration of two lanes in each direction, a bus lane, protected bike lanes and sidewalks.

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Voting closed 1209