Mass DOT Gives Green Light for New Charlestown/N Washington St Bridge

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass DOT) board of directors voted to proceed with construction last week after accepting the lowest bid of $177 million from ACS/J F White Contracting for the new Charlestown/North Washington Street Bridge, which Beacon Hill architect Miguel Rosales has conceived to complement his iconic Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge.

Rosales’ design dedicates nearly 40 percent of the total width of the bridge, linking the North End to Charlestown, for pedestrian and bicycle purposes including a landscaped buffer to separate pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicular traffic. The proposed bridge would expand the currently narrow sidewalks to provide a safer, more pleasant experience for pedestrians.  It will also feature the first dedicated bus lane and cycle-track system in the city, making it what Rosales calls a “truly multi-modal bridge.”

“I think it will become a role model for other bridges because of the division of space among vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Rosales, president and founder of Rosales + Partners who is also the lead architect for the ongoing rehabilitation of the city’s historic Longfellow Bridge and the new Appleton Pedestrian Bridge over Storrow Drive. “Separated cycle tracks on either side of the roadway will create a safer and more pleasant connection across Boston Harbor and tie into the Connect Historic Boston network on Causeway Street. Two vehicle lanes will be provided in both directions, and a new bus-only lane will be accommodated in the southbound direction.”

Its main span over the navigation channel will stretch across a width of 200 feet, offering unobstructed views of the waterfront and the harbor, as well as incorporating an expanded, curved overlook with seating and views of landmarks like Old North Church, the Bunker Hill Monument and the Zakim Bridge. The new bridge also features Y-shaped piers and an attractive curved trellis that Rosales has incorporated into the plan to visually relate to the Zakim Bridge.

“The proposed design will create a wider channel for boats while maintaining flood control measures associated with the Charles River locks,” Rosales said.  “Other planned improvements include architectural design elements, landscaping, aesthetic lighting, improved treatments for the Freedom Trail and a new HarborWalk underpass.”

Construction of this first-of-a-kind bridge is slated to begin in 2018, with a completion date expected in 2023.

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