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About This Project


MassDOT is undertaking the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project, a major project of the Patrick Administration's Accelerated Bridge Program. The historic bridge is a vital link between Boston and Cambridge, making important regional connections and contributing to the Charles River Basin Historic District.

The three and half year rehabilitation project will address the bridge’s current structural deficiencies, upgrade its structural capacity and bring it up to modern code, including improving multi-modal access and bridge-to-city-street connections to meet accessibility guidelines. The repairs and modifications will be consistent with the historic character of the bridge and comply with environmental standards. 

To learn about the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project, view this animation.

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What's New

During the week of July 21, MassDOT’s contractor, White-Skanska-Consigli JV will continue to delead and paint the Longfellow Bridge.  This work will be done during the overnight hours from Monday, July 21 through Friday, July 25 and will require westbound lane closures on Storrow Drive.  A single lane closure will be implemented at 9:00 PM and a double lane closure will be in place from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM. All lanes will reopen to travel at 5:00 AM each morning.


More than 100 years after the last stone was set on the "salt and pepper" towers of the Longfellow Bridge, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's (MassDOT) contractor, White-Skanska-Consigli JV, began dismantling them on March 7, 2014 for cleaning, repair and storage at the contractor's staging area. The work began with the upstream tower on the Cambridge side of the bridge and dismantling of the upstream tower on the Boston side was completed on June 6, 2014. The upstream towers will be reassembled in late 2014. Work on the downstream towers will be done during the final phase of bridge construction, which is planned to begin in fall 2015. To learn more about the tower dismantling process, please review the latest project update.

The new Mugar Way off-ramp from Storrow Drive eastbound is open to traffic. Final completion of the Mugar Way realignment will not be achieved until the new pedestrian bridge to the Esplanade is completed in 2015. Due to the nature of the Longfellow Bridge project, there will always be some work going on in the vicinity of Charles Circle until the project is finished in September 2016. Pedestrian access to the Esplanade from Charles Circle will always be maintained, with the exception of a one-week period in 2015 when the contractor will close the existing bridge and open the new bridge. We will reach out to local media and send an email advisory prior to this closure. During the one-week closure, pedestrians will access the Esplanade using the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge near Arlington Street or the pedestrian bridge adjacent to the Lee Memorial Wading Pool near Blossom Street.
Traffic Management
  
The Longfellow Bridge carries the MBTA Red Line and thousands of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists each day. Due to the compressed construction period and to protect the bridge’s users and construction workers, traffic will have to be shifted as work progresses. 
The contractor is required to maintain emergency response, MBTA Red Line service, and bicycle and pedestrian access on the bridge at all times.  Effective July 21, 2013 through September 2014, one lane of traffic will carry vehicles into Boston (using the former Cambridge-bound lane) and Cambridge-bound traffic is being detoured using a signed route from Charles Circle to Land Boulevard using Leverett Circle and Monsignor O’Brien Highway/Route 28 (Charles River Dam Road). Subsequent to September 2014, the Boston-bound travel lane will shift its position on the bridge while keeping the Cambridge-bound detour in place. The alternate detour route uses Storrow Drive westbound to the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. Please note, Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive have truck restrictions. Emergency response, bicycle and pedestrian access, and MBTA Red Line service will be maintained across the bridge during construction.

The preliminary work on Main Street and at Monsignor O'Brien Highway/Route 28 in Cambridge to accommodate traffic changes has modified the First Street ramp to Main Street in Kendall Square.  The Main Street crossover graphic shows the new configuration. Vehicles can continue to use the ramp for right turns for Cambridge destinations. Vehicles wishing to reach Boston from Land Boulevard should use Binney Street and Third Street to reach Main Street or stay on Memorial Drive westbound and use Wadsworth Street to Main Street. Please note: Memorial Drive has truck restrictions.

The project includes replacing the MBTA Red Line tracks. The work will take place on 25 weekends over the three and half year project. During the MBTA weekend diversions, buses will replace Red Line trains on the bridge. The bus route will carry passengers between Kendall/MIT Station and  Park Street Station with a stop at Charles/MGH Station. To allow space for MBTA bus travel in each direction, all other Boston-bound traffic will be detoured during the Red Line diversions using Memorial Drive and Land Boulevard to reach Leverett Circle.  Please note: Memorial Drive has truck restrictions. For more details, view the Boston-bound detour map.  During weekend busing operations, bicyclists will be asked to walk their bicycles across the bridge on the sidewalk for safety reasons.
To report issues or concerns or for questions related to construction, please use the dedicated project hotline, 617-519-9892, or the project email address, longfellowbridge@state.ma.us.

Proposed Work

In this design, the bridge's distinctive architectural features will be preserved or restored, while the deteriorated structural elements of the bridge are carefully rehabilitated. All new elements of the work will be sensitively designed to complement the bridge's historic character and its prominent position within the historic Charles River basin.

The primary objective of the proposed rehabilitation is to address the bridge's current structural deficiencies, upgrade its structural capacity, and bring the bridge up to modern code. In particular, the structural steel elements supporting the bridge deck have deteriorated and require upgrading, and the abutments will have to be modified slightly to allow the sidewalk approaches to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines. At the same time, the bridge's ornate pedestrian railings will be restored or replicated, its masonry elements will be cleaned and conserved, and an appropriate new bridge lighting system will be designed. Areas on the riverbanks disturbed by the project will be carefully landscaped to tie the bridge into its historic setting.
Updated renderings of the completed bridge rehabilitation project are available for review.

Background

The Longfellow (originally, the Cambridge) Bridge is one of the most architecturally distinguished bridges in Massachusetts. Located on the site of the 1793 West Boston Bridge, this graceful steel and granite structure was completed in 1908, and renamed to honor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1927. The bridge joins Cambridge Street in Boston with Main Street in Cambridge and carries the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Red Line and two-way vehicular traffic across the Charles River. The bridge presently carries 28,000 motor vehicles, 90,000 transit users, and significant numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists each day.

The 1908 bridge was extended in 1956 and rehabilitated in 1959. The bridge today consists of eleven original open-spandrel steel arch spans plus two steel girder approach spans at the Cambridge end. The bridge has an overall length of 2,135 feet, and a deck width of 105 feet, which includes a 27-foot fenced median occupied by the Red Line. The existing cross-section provides an upstream 6-foot sidewalk and a 33-foot wide roadway while the downstream side consists of a 10-foot sidewalk and 29-foot wide roadway. The bridge's substructure is built of granite block masonry and consists of ten hollow piers and two hollow abutments. The two central piers carry the signature pairs of neoclassically inspired dressed granite towers that have given the bridge its popular nickname - the Salt and Pepper Bridge.

Environmental and Historic Resources
The project team will continue to review key historical, architectural and environmental aspects of the rehabilitation, including coordinating with Section 106 Consulting Parties (Massachusetts Historical Commission, Boston Landmarks Commission and Cambridge Historical Commission), the Boston and Cambridge Conservation Commissions and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

Tree Protection and Removal Plan
As part of the rehabilitation of the historic and iconic Longfellow Bridge and construction of a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant pedestrian bridge across Storrow Drive to the Esplanade, several trees must be removed or transplanted. The tree protection and removal plan has been presented at numerous public meetings and hearings during the previous phase of the project, including general public information meetings and hearings for the Environmental Assessment, Environmental Notification Form and Notices of Intent. MassDOT has also coordinated extensively with the Department of Conservation and Recreation in preparing the plan and understands the value residents and visitors place on trees. Every effort has been made to minimize the number of impacted trees through careful design. A landscape architect and a certified arborist are part of the project team.

White-Skanska-Consigli is transplanting and removing trees in phases. The first phase was in summer 2013. A second phase was completed this spring. Notice will be provided prior to future tree removals.
 Project Updates
MassDOT is committed to public outreach throughout construction. An issues tracking system during construction ensures that problems and concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
To report issues or concerns or for questions related to construction, please use the dedicated project hotline, 617-519-9892, or email address, longfellowbridge@state.ma.us.
Interested in keeping in touch with this project? Sign up for Longfellow Bridge project updates.
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