One day after the Longfellow Bridge fully reopened for the first time in five years, this milestone was commemorated Friday with a reception on the Charles River Esplanade.
“This is indeed an opportunity for celebration,” Gov. Charlie Baker told the crowd after reading an excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Bridge.”
The scope of the more than $300 million project included a reduction in outbound vehicular traffic lanes from two to one to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, the replacement of a pedestrian crossing between Charles Circle and the Charles River Esplanade, improvements to MBTA Red Line tracks and restoration of the iconic “salt-and-pepper” towers, among other modifications to bring the nearly 110-year-old structure up to modern code.
Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said the MBTA has been a very important partner in the project not only because the agency helped arrange closures to facilitate construction, but also because 100,000 commuters traverse the bridge each day via the Red Line.
Pollack added that this is the last of the last of five “mega-projects” funded by the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program.
“This bridge is a great addition to all our transportation needs,” said Congressman Michael Capuano, who helped jumpstart the project by securing $10 million in federal funding to attract the state’s interest.
Jonathan Gulliver, MassDOT highway administrator, said the final touches on the project would be finished in the next few months, including completion of the Frances “Fanny” Appleton Pedestrian Bridge – the 225-foot-long, steel arch span that will link Beacon Hill/Charles Circle to the Esplanade.