The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that it has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to procure a transportation planning and engineering consultant team to develop and evaluate options for the eventual replacement of the Maurice J. Tobin Bridge.
The Tobin Bridge carries Route 1 over the Mystic River, directly connects Boston and Chelsea, and provides connectivity to the regional transportation network. With Annual Average Daily Traffic across the bridge at approximately 87,000 vehicles, (as of September 2023), the Route 1 corridor is regularly congested in the peak hours and operates at or near capacity. The RFP will procure a team to assist MassDOT’s Office of Transportation Planning with a study to best position MassDOT in the project development process once the determination is made for the Tobin Bridge to be replaced.
“The time is now to start taking the steps needed with planning and engineering decisions about the future of the Tobin Bridge,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “Before the Tobin Bridge reaches the end of its useful life, we’re initiating a long-term strategic planning study to guide us on what type of facility should be built to replace it. This will also allow us to address any other deficiencies, and to think about opportunities we may have to improve future transit priority and multimodal travel over the Mystic River.”
“This study is an investment in our future as it will not only prepare us to replace the Tobin Bridge but to also modernize the connection with a deep focus on climate resiliency and how to incorporate multimodal transportation options,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.
Environmental review within the study’s scope of work, will encompass, but will not be limited to, impacts on ecosystems/habitats, overall environment, including air quality and greenhouse gas impacts, environmental justice areas, navigable waterways, and designated Port Areas and Chapter 91 boundaries. In accordance with evaluating these impacts, this study will examine greenhouse gas emissions, flooding, urban heat islands, and climate change mitigation measures and metrics.
Given the number and variety of stakeholders in the Tobin Bridge area, the study’s scope of work proposes a robust public engagement process. This will include, but not be limited to, the formation of a Working Group that will invite key stakeholders to participate, such as the City of Chelsea, the City of Boston, Massport, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, advocacy groups and community organizations. Public engagement will include in-person public meetings, stakeholder meetings, briefings, a study website, and outreach workshops. The Working Group will work with the selected consultant team at the outset of the study process to develop an appropriate public involvement plan with a focus on equity, multi-modal travel, community impacts, and socioeconomic factors.
The Tobin Bridge is currently maintained in a “State of Good Repair,” with preventative measures and maintenance projects programmed annually to ensure safe operating conditions. On Wednesday, September 20, members of the MassDOT Board of Directors approved a contract for approximately $128 million for Tobin Bridge repairs while the bridge’s replacement is being evaluated. The scope of work includes:
• Cleaning existing steel and removing old paint on the Chelsea approach lower level mainline (northbound), Beacon Street ramp, upper level mainline (southbound) and Everett Avenue ramp.
• Performing repairs to the existing Chelsea approach steel superstructure elements, and safety walk elements at the lower level mainline, Beacon Street ramp, upper level mainline and Everett Avenue ramp.
• Upon completion of steel repairs, painting the existing steel.
• Performing repairs to substructure elements.
• Repairs to concrete substructure elements.
Construction for the Tobin Bridge’s immediate maintenance repairs will be conducted in ways that minimize impacts on the local neighborhoods and to the traveling public. No permanent lane closures on the bridge are anticipated during construction and no impacts are expected to adjacent roadways.
Previously, in 2019, MassDOT launched the Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project.