Tobin Bridge

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Tobin Bridge
Tobin bridge 2009f.JPG
The Tobin Bridge viewed from East Boston
Coordinates42°23′05″N 71°02′51″W / 42.38483°N 71.04755°W / 42.38483; -71.04755Coordinates: 42°23′05″N 71°02′51″W / 42.38483°N 71.04755°W / 42.38483; -71.04755
Carries6 lanes of US 1 (3 upper, 3 lower)
CrossesMystic River
LocaleBoston, Massachusetts (Charlestown-Chelsea, MA)
Official nameMaurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge
Maintained byMassachusetts Department of Transportation
Designthree-span double-deck cantilevered truss bridge
Total length11,906 feet (3,629 m)[1]
Width36 feet (11 m)[1]
Height254 feet (77 m)
Longest span800 ft (244 m)[1]
Clearance below135 feet (41 m)[2]
Construction startApril 12, 1948[1]
OpenedFebruary 27, 1950[1]
Toll$1.25 E-ZPass
($0.30 for local residents),
$1.55 pay-by-mail (auto rate) for either direction.
Tobin Bridge is located in Massachusetts
Tobin Bridge
Location in Massachusetts

The Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge (formerly and still sometimes referred to as the Mystic River Bridge or less often the Mystic/Tobin Bridge) is a cantilever truss bridge that spans more than two miles (3 km) from Boston to Chelsea over the Mystic River in Massachusetts.[3] The bridge is the largest in New England.[3] It is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and carries U.S. Route 1. It was built between 1948 and 1950 and opened to traffic on February 2, 1950, replacing the former Chelsea Street Bridge. The 36-foot (11 m) wide roadway has three lanes of traffic on each of the two levels with Northbound traffic on the lower level and Southbound traffic on the upper level.


The bridge is a three-span cantilevered truss bridge at 1,525 ft (465 m) in total length.[2] The center span is longest at 800 ft (244 m) and the maximum truss height is 115 ft (35 m). There are 36 approach spans to the North and 32 to the South. The roadway is seven lanes wide between the shortest (439 ft; 134 m) span and the center to accommodate the now-unused toll plaza. The Northbound toll plaza was closed in the 1980s; the Southbound toll plaza was closed on July 21, 2014.


The bridge was originally operated by the Mystic River Bridge Authority. The bridge, according to the statute enacted May 23, 1946, would be turned over to the Massachusetts Department of Public Works once the $27 million in bonds used to finance the bridge's construction was retired. The bridge would then become part of the state highway system to be maintained and operated by the department free of tolls.[4] Operation of the bridge was turned over to the new Massachusetts Port Authority in 1956.[5]

Instead of eliminating the tolls, the tolls were increased to 25 cents to cover the closing of the Northbound toll plaza in the 1980s. Starting in the early 1990s the tolls increased sharply to help pay for the Big Dig.[citation needed] As of October 28, 2016, the toll is $1.55 for non-commercial cars traveling in either direction[6] ($1.25 with an E-ZPass issued by any toll agency, and $0.15 for registered residents of Charlestown and Chelsea with an E-ZPass).

In 1967, the Mystic River Bridge was renamed in honor of Maurice J. Tobin, former Boston mayor and Massachusetts governor. Construction of the bridge began during his term as governor (1945–1947). Tobin went on to serve as Secretary of Labor under President Harry Truman before he died in 1953.

In 1973, a gravel truck traveling over the lower deck crashed into a support, collapsing the upper deck onto the truck and killing the driver. Later that year, the bridge reopened after more than two months of repair.[7]

On January 4, 1990, racial hoaxer and double murderer Charles Stuart committed suicide by leaping from the bridge.

Legislation was passed to transfer the bridge from Massport to the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation, effective January 1, 2010.[8][9]

On the morning of July 21, 2014, the bridge's tollbooths were closed and eventually removed for an all-electronic and cashless tolling system, and from that point on all toll charges are paid for via either E-ZPass at the current rate, or "pay-by-mail" where an invoice will be sent to motorist's home via license plate number recognition at the former cash toll rate. This inaugurated a 2½ year process by MassDOT which converted all of the toll roads and bridges throughout the Commonwealth to automatic open road tolling.[10]


In September 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced a three-year $41.6 million project to restore the bridge deck, steel repairs, and painting a portion of the bridge. The first phase of work will start in April 2018 and run through November 2018 and will be conducted again during the months of April - November for the next two years, ending in 2020. The work will be done by J. F. White Contracting Co.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Tobin Memorial Bridge at Structurae
  2. ^ a b "The Tobin Memorial Bridge". Archived from the original on August 28, 1999. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Abel, David (October 23, 2007). "Work never stops on Tobin bridge: Costs rising as crews try to maintain old structure". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ "1946 House Bill 1979. An Act Providing For The Construction, Maintenance, Repair And Operation Of A High Level Toll Bridge Between The Cities Of Boston And Chelsea Over The Mystic River And The Tracks Of The Boston And Maine Railroad, Providing For The Creation Of The Mystic River Bridge Authority And Defining Its Powers And Duties And Providing For The Financing Of Said Project". Massachusetts. General Court. House of Representatives. 1946. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Massachusetts (1663). Acts and resolves passed by the General Court. State Library of Massachusetts. Boston : Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  6. ^ "Toll Calculator". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "The (Mystic) Tobin Bridge". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  8. ^ "Mass DOT Newsletter (volume 6)". Massachusetts DOT. Archived from the original on January 8, 2011.
  9. ^ Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009. Section 144. Section 156(b) reallocates bridge tolls from Massport to MassDOT effective July 1, 2010.
  10. ^ Creamer, Alyssa (July 18, 2014). "No Cash Allowed: Tobin Bridge Tolls Go All-Electronic Monday". WBUR-FM. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  11. ^ Young, Colin A. (September 12, 2017). "Major Work On Tobin Bridge Is Set To Start In 2018". WBUR-FM. State House News Service. Retrieved September 12, 2017.

External links[edit]