The Northern Avenue Bridge, built in 1908, was constructed as an integral part of the development of South Boston as a maritime and industrial center for Boston and the region. The bridge continues to serve as a reminder of that part of the City's evolution.
The bridge was closed to cars in 1997 and foot traffic in 2014. Boston plans to spend at least $46 million to replace the now defunct span. LivableStreets currently serves on the Northern Ave Bridge Mayoral Advisory Task Force and strongly supports the vision for a bridge that will be an iconic destination that improves mobility, strengthens resiliency, and honors history.
- For more than two decades, the community has worked to ensure this iconic historic bridge’s preservation and to maintain its important and unique role as a pedestrian refuge and active transportation link adjacent to a resilient Boston Harbor.
- With the development boom in the Seaport District, there needs to be more ways to move people in and out of the neighborhood. The inability for anyone to cross the bridge has been a pain point for local businesses and the growing number of people who live and work in the neighborhood.
- In October 2016, the Coast Guard warned that the bridge could collapse into Fort Point Channel if left in its current state. The City of Boston said it would spend up to $100 million either restoring or replacing the bridge.
- In 2016, the City of Boston and the Boston Society of Architects invited the public to participate in an Ideas Competition about the future of the Northern Avenue Bridge. Many of the concepts presented (including the "Peoples' Choice" winner pictured to the right), emphasized active transportation and creative placemaking.
- In 2018, a Mayoral Advisory Task Force was formed to assist in designing and programming for a new bridge.
- Public outreach has also included several community meetings and opportunities for public comments via email and an online form.
- The City hired AECOM, and its team of sub-consultants, to conduct analysis and advance several design alternatives for the bridge.
- Despite majority public support for preserving a people-centered bridge for walking and biking, none of the four designs presented to the Task Force in April 2019 align with this community vision.
- Last spring, LivableStreets, Boston Preservation Alliance, and other members of the Task Force asked Mayor Walsh to delay the process and commit to presenting for consideration a design and analysis of a bridge that is open to only pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles.
- LivableStreets, WalkBoston, and the Boston Cyclists Union are asking the City to commit to a design for a bridge that is open to only pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles. We are asking City Council not to approve this project in the budget until this commitment has been made.
- The City plans to present an updated design at a virtual meeting on May 6. Learn more: City of Boston - Northern Avenue Bridge Project Page.
What you can do
Can you take 5 minutes now to let the project team and City Council know that this project should not be approved in the budget until the City commits to a Northern Avenue Bridge that prioritizes people and respects the historic legacy of this iconic structure?
- Project team: firstname.lastname@example.org
- At-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty: email@example.com | 617-635-4205
- At-Large City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George: A.E.George@boston.gov | 617-635-4376
- At-Large City Councilor Julia Mejia: firstname.lastname@example.org | 617-635-4217
- At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu: email@example.com | 617-635-3115
- District 2 City Councilor Ed Flynn: firstname.lastname@example.org | 617-635-3203
Contact the project team and the City Council members and ask them to:
- Formally and publicly recommit to a neutral and transparent process that prioritizes the community.
- Commit to presenting for consideration a design and analysis of a bridge that is open only to people walking, biking, and emergency vehicles.
- Commit to working with the historic preservation community to follow required local, state, and federal reviews to demonstrate why a new bridge is the only viable alternative. The new bridge should reflect the spirit of this iconic structure and the historic context of Fort Point Channel.
Thank you for taking action!