Accelerated Bridge Program Massachusetts Department of transporatation

About This Project

MassDOT proposes to repair and rehabilitate the Western Avenue and River Street Bridges carrying Western Avenue and River Street across the Charles River between Allston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Purpose and Goals
The purpose of the project is to repair and rehabilitate the foundations and superstructure of the Western Avenue and River Street Bridges to ensure that both bridges are able to continue to safely carry vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Repairs to the bridges will address both structural deficiencies, such as deteriorated concrete, as well as functional deficiencies such as inadequate site lines where the bridges meet Soldiers' Field Road and Memorial Drive.
Existing Conditions
The River Street Bridge links the Allston section of Boston to Cambridge via River Street.  Traffic on the River Street Bridge is one-way, eastbound, from Allston into Cambridge.  The Western Avenue Bridge links Cambridge to Allston, via Western Avenue.  Traffic on the Western Avenue Bridge is one-way, westbound, from Cambridge into Allston. 

Both bridges intersect with Soldiers' Field Road on the Boston side of the river and Memorial Drive on the Cambridge side.  With these connections, the two bridges and the segments of Memorial Drive and Soldiers' Field Road between them, act as a rotary.  The portion of the Charles River crossed by these two bridges navigable to small craft only, but sees significant use by rowing shells throughout much of the year.  Both bridges are architecturally significant for their use of cast-in-place concrete and pre-cast concrete elements.   

River Street Bridge
The River Street Bridge, constructed in 1925, is an earth-filled, reinforced concrete arch bridge consisting of three spans, supported on concrete spread footings constructed on a thin layer of gravel below the river bed.  The last work on the bridge was performed in 1981 and addressed only rehabilitation of the road surface.

Currently, MassDOT rates all major components of the bridge as in either "fair" or "poor" condition.  Major areas of deterioration include separation of the arch ring stones from the concrete arch, damage to and misalignment of the bridge parapet, significant concrete deterioration of the piers and spandrel walls, and significant water damage throughout the structure.

Western Avenue Bridge

The Western Avenue Bridge, constructed in 1924, is similar to the River Street Bridge with regard to architecture and design.  Like its counterpart to the south, the Western Avenue Bridge was last repaired in 1981 with work focused on improvements to the road surface. 

This bridge is in somewhat better condition that the River Street Bridge as its substructure and piers are rated as "satisfactory."  All other components are rated as being in either "poor" or "fair condition."  Major areas of deterioration include severe efflorescence, "map cracking" and deterioration of the concrete through the parapets, wing walls and spandrel walls, as well as spilling and evidence of water damage throughout the structure.

Scope of Work

MassDOT has selected a consultant team lead by Hardesty & Hanover, LLP to study the bridges, develop a thorough understanding of their condition and provide 100% design plans to repair and rehabilitate the Western Avenue and River Street Bridges, to safely carry vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic for another 75 years.  Components of the bridge such as parapets and roadway geometry, which are now functionally obsolete, will be brought up to current codes and standards. 

In addition to the bridges, the consultant team will develop similar repair and rehabilitation plans for the bridges that carry Western Avenue and River Street over Soldier's Field Road on the Boston side of the Charles River.  The proposed lane configuration for the rehabilitated bridges will retain three lanes of automotive traffic traveling one-way north or south depending on the bridge.  The lanes may be narrowed somewhat to provide for a bicycle lane traveling in the same direction as automobile traffic.  The intersections of the two bridges with Soldiers' Field Road and Memorial Drive will be upgraded to provide safer conditions for all transportation modes.  Sidewalks will be repaired and drainage systems for the bridges improved.

Environmental Review

MassDOT recognizes the significant cultural and natural resources associated with our projects in the Charles River Basin and takes appropriate steps to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to these resources. The project will require the following state and local permits:  Secretary’s Certificate/Decision regarding the filing of an Environmental Notification Form in accordance with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act from Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs; Orders of Conditions from the City of Boston and City of Cambridge Conservation Commissions; Chapter 91 Minor Modification and Section 401 Water Quality Certification (Dredge) from Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; 8(m) Permit from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.  The project also requires the following federal permits:  Section 404 Comprehensive Permit for Bridges from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended (36 CFR 800).  As part of this review process, an extensive and comprehensive public involvement process has been implemented.


The design and construction of the two bridge projects will be managed and overseen by MassDOT. MassDOT will sequence the construction advertisement  in coordination with adjacent area projects.

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