Longfellow Bridge

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Longfellow Bridge
Longfellow pru chopped.jpg
Bridge as seen from the Prudential Tower observatory
Carries Route 3, MBTA Red Line
Crosses Charles River
Locale Boston, Massachusetts to Cambridge, Massachusetts
Maintained by Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Design steel rib Arch bridge
Total length 1,767.5 feet (538.7 m)[1]
Width 105 feet (32 m)[1]
Longest span 188.5 feet (57.5 m)[1]
Construction begin July 1900[1]
Opened August 3, 1906
Daily traffic 28,600 cars and 90,000 mass-transit passengers
Coordinates 42°21′42″N 71°04′31″W / 42.361635°N 71.07541°W / 42.361635; -71.07541Coordinates: 42°21′42″N 71°04′31″W / 42.361635°N 71.07541°W / 42.361635; -71.07541
Longfellow Bridge is located in Massachusetts
Longfellow Bridge

The Longfellow Bridge, also known to locals as the "Salt-and-Pepper Bridge"[2] or the "Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge"[3] due to the shape of its central towers, carries Route 3 and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Red Line across the Charles River to connect Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood with the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The bridge falls under the jurisdiction and oversight of Massachusetts Department of Transportation.[4] The bridge carries approximately 28,600 cars and 90,000 mass-transit passengers every weekday.[5] A portion of the elevated Charles/Massachusetts General Hospital rapid transit station lies at the eastern end of the bridge, which connects to Charles Circle.

Description[edit]

Longfellow Bridge is a combination railway and highway bridge. It is 105 feet (32 m) wide, 1,767 feet 6 inches (538.73 m) long between abutments, and nearly one-half mile in length, including abutments and approaches. It consists of eleven steel arch spans supported on ten masonry piers and two massive abutments. The arches vary in length from 101 feet 6 inches (30.94 m) at the abutments to 188 feet 6 inches (57.45 m) at the center, and in rise from 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m) to 26 feet 6 inches (8.08 m). Headroom under the central arch is 26 feet (7.9 m) at mean high water.

The two large central piers, 188 feet (57 m) long and 53 feet 6 inches (16.31 m) wide,[1] feature four carved, ornamental stone towers that provide stairway access to pedestrian passageways beneath the bridge. Its sidewalks were originally both 10 feet (3.0 m) wide, but as of 2013, for unknown reasons, the upstream sidewalks are narrower than the downstream ones.

History[edit]

The new Cambridge Bridge viewed from Boston, sometime between 1906 and 1912. Note the absence of MIT in the distance, and that the subway tracks in the center have yet to be connected to anything. Streetcar tracks can be seen on either side of the central structure

The first river crossing at this site was a ferry, first run in the 1630s.[6] The West Boston Bridge (a toll bridge) was constructed in 1793 by a group of private investors with a charter from the Commonwealth. At the time, there were only a handful of buildings in East Cambridge. The opening of the bridge caused a building boom along Main Street in Cambridge, which connected the bridge to Old Cambridge. In East Cambridge, new streets were laid out and land was reclaimed from the swamps along the Charles River.[7] The Cambridge and Concord Turnpike (now Broadway) was connected to the bridge's western approach around 1812. The bridge became toll-free on January 30, 1858.[8]

In 1898 the Cambridge Bridge Commission was created to construct "a new bridge across Charles River, to be known as Cambridge Bridge, at, upon, or near the site of the so-called West Boston Bridge... suitable for all the purposes of ordinary travel between said cities, and for the use of the elevated and surface cars of the Boston Elevated Railway Company." At its first meeting on June 16, 1898, Willam Jackson was appointed Chief Engineer; shortly afterward Edmund M. Wheelwright was appointed Consulting Architect. Both then traveled to Europe, where they made a thorough inspection of notable bridges in France, Germany, Austria and Russia. Upon their return, they prepared studies of various types of bridges, including bridges of stone and steel arch spans.

Although both state and national regulations at the time required a draw bridge, it became evident that a bridge without a draw would be cheaper, better-looking, and avoid disruption to traffic. The state altered its regulations accordingly, and after the War Department declined to follow suit, the United States Congress drew up an act permitting the bridge, which President William McKinley signed on March 29, 1900. Construction began in July 1900; the bridge opened on August 3, 1906, and was formally dedicated on July 31, 1907.[1]

Wheelwright had been inspired by the 1893 Columbian Exposition and was attempting to emulate the great bridges of Europe. Four large piers of the bridge are ornamented with the prows of Viking ships, carved in granite. They refer to a voyage by Leif Eriksson up the Charles River circa 1000 AD, as promoted by Harvard professor Eben Horsford. The piers are also decorated with the city seals of Boston and Cambridge.

The main piers have sculptures that represent the prows of Viking ships.

The Cambridge Bridge was renamed as the Longfellow Bridge in 1927[9] by the Massachusetts General Court to honor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who had written about the predecessor West Boston Bridge in his 1845 poem "The Bridge".

Until 1952, the center traffic lanes of the bridge also contained tracks which connected what is now known as the Blue Line, running from crossovers at the Cambridge end to the Red Line subway tracks, across the bridge and into Boston to the North Russell Street Incline of the Blue Line subway. Before the Orient Heights Blue Line yards were built, major repairs to that line's trains were performed at the former Eliot Square carbarns in Cambridge. For more details on this historic Red/Blue Line connection, see Blue Line (MBTA)#History.[10]

Past neglect and future rehabilitation[edit]

The Longfellow Bridge, like many bridges in the Commonwealth,[11] is in a state of disrepair. Between 1907 and 2011, the only major maintenance conducted on the bridge had been a small 1959 rehabilitation project and some lesser repairs done in 2002.[12]

On May 1, 2007, a fire broke out under the bridge, ignited by a cigarette left by vagrants who sometimes stayed in the covered crawlspace under the bridge deck. The fire caused the bridge to be shut down to vehicle and train traffic,[13] and also severed Internet2 connectivity to Boston, causing problems with the Chicago-New York OC-192 route, according to the Internet2 blog.[14]

In the summer of 2008, two state employees stole 2,347 feet (715 m) of decorative iron trim that had been removed from the bridge for refurbishment, and sold it for scrap. The men, one of whom was a Department of Conservation and Recreation district manager, were charged with receiving $12,147 for the historic original parapet coping. The estimated cost to remake the pieces, scheduled for replication by 2012, was over $500,000.[15] The men were later convicted, in September 2009.[16]

Also that summer, the western sidewalk and inner traffic lane were both closed, the Red Line subway was limited to 10 miles per hour (16 km/h), and Fourth-of-July fireworks-watchers were banned from the bridge, all because of concerns that the bridge might collapse under the weight and vibration of heavy use.[6] The speed restriction was lifted in August 2008, and the lane and sidewalk were reopened later on.

On August 4, 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a $3 billion Massachusetts bridge repair funding package he had sponsored.[17] Bond funds are to be used to pay for the rehabilitation of the Longfellow, with a preliminary cost estimate of $267.5 million.[18] If bridge maintenance had instead been performed regularly, the total estimated historical cost would have been about $81 million.[19] Design began in Spring 2005; construction was expected to begin in Spring 2012 and end in Spring 2016.[18]

Ownership and management of the overhaul was transferred from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) on November 1, 2009, along with other DCR bridges.[20]

Repairs underway, July 2011

Emergency repairs[edit]

The condition of the bridge was determined to be so bad that the state could not wait until 2012 to begin work. A $17 million contract was signed with SPS New England Inc in 2010.[21] Crews began work in August 2010 that involved improving sidewalks on the approaches to bring them up to ADA compliance. In March 2011 crews began structural inspections for Phase II and cleaning of the stone masonry piers. MassDOT announced in May 2011 that work would begin on stripping and cleaning rust from steel arch ribbons that have not been painted since 1953. Crews were to apply primer to the ribbons and evaluate the arches for the future major rehabilitation. All work was expected to be completed by December 2011.[22]

Major reconstruction project[edit]

A $255 million project which started construction in Summer 2013 will replace structural elements of the bridge, and restore its historic character.[23] The project will require at least 25 weekend shutdowns of MBTA Red Line subway service to accommodate construction, including multiple temporary relocations of the tracks.[24] Outbound road traffic (from Boston to Cambridge) will be detoured from the bridge for all 3 years of construction. A single lane of inbound traffic is available for the duration of the project, and it may be restricted to only buses at certain hours. A video animation released by MassDOT shows the complex 6-stage rehabilitation process in great detail.[25]

The design/build phase of the bridge is to be completed by the joint venture team of contractors White-Skanska-Consigli and overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.[26] The Longfellow Bridge Restoration and Rehabilitation is scheduled for completion in 2016. Bridge Architect Miguel Rosales of Boston-based transportation architects Rosales + Partners provided the conceptual design, bridge architecture and aesthetic lighting design. Preliminary design engineering was performed by Jacobs Engineering. STV, Inc. will be the final design engineer and engineer of record. When complete, the bridge will have widened sidewalks and bike lanes.[23][24]

Gallery[edit]

View of the Longfellow Bridge from East Cambridge in 2008

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Jackson, William (1909). Report of the Cambridge bridge commission and report of the chief engineer upon the construction of Cambridge bridge. Printing department. p. 42. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  2. ^ Angelo, William J. (June 6, 2007). "Salt and Pepper Bridge Slated For Major Rehab in Boston". Engineering News-Record (The McGraw-Hill Companies). Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ Howe, Peter J. (January 19, 2008). "Heavy vehicles banned from bridge's left lanes". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Bridge Rehabilitation, Cambridge Street over the Charles River". Mhd.state.ma.us. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  5. ^ "MassDOT Highway Division: Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project". Boston, Massachusetts: MassDOT (Commonwealth of Massachusetts). 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-22. "The bridge presently carries 28,000 motor vehicles, 90,000 transit users, and significant numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists each day." 
  6. ^ a b With bridges shaky, what if Boston lost its link to Cambridge?[dead link] Boston Globe, 3 Aug 2008.
  7. ^ History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877 by Lucius Robinson Paige. p. 176 and thereafter
  8. ^ History of Cambridge, p. 201-202
  9. ^ Haglund, Karl (September 16, 2002). Inventing the Charles River. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-262-08307-2. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  10. ^ Clarke, Bradley H. (1981). The Boston Rapid Transit Album. Boston Street Railway Association. p. 14. 
  11. ^ "Report: Mass. Road And Bridge Repair Is Poor". wbztv.com. Associated Press. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2008-09-02. [dead link]
  12. ^ Westerling, David & Steve Poftak, A Legacy of Neglect, Boston Globe Op Ed., A11 (Jul 31, 2007).
  13. ^ Firehouse.com[dead link]
  14. ^ "Internet2 blog". I2net.blogspot.com. 2007-05-02. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  15. ^ Ebbert, Stephanie (2008-09-12). "Case of the purloined ironwork". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  16. ^ Ellement, John R. (2009-09-16). "Pair get jail for iron theft at bridge". Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts: New York Times). Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  17. ^ Viser, Matt (2008-08-05). "Patrick signs $3b bill to fix bridges". boston.com. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  18. ^ a b "Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP) Plan - By Locality" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  19. ^ Ross, Casey, Longfellow's long list of woes, Boston Herald Special Report, (Jan 11, 2008).
  20. ^ "90 Day Integration Report - September 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  21. ^ "Longfellow Bridge". Massdot.state.ma.us. Archived from the original on 2010-10-17. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  22. ^ Brown, Sara (April 12, 2011). "Beacon Hill gets a Longfellow Bridge update". The Boston Globe. 
  23. ^ a b MassDOT. "Longfellow Bridge". Accelerated Bridge Program. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Powers, Martine (February 28, 2013). "Longfellow Bridge repairs, disruption to start in summer". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  25. ^ MassDOT. "Longfellow Bridge Construction Animation". youmovemass. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  26. ^ MassDOT. "MASSDOT BOARD APPROVES CONTRACTS FOR REHABILITATION OF LONGFELLOW AND WHITTIER BRIDGES". Retrieved 3 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Closures[edit]

Restoration[edit]