The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that the vertical flex posts that separate the bicycle lanes and vehicular travel lanes on the Longfellow Bridge will remain in place on a storm-by-storm basis this winter in order to allow MassDOT to evaluate the feasibility and safety of using a sidewalk plow to clear the bicycle lanes during snow and ice events.
The traveling public is advised that MassDOT will remove the flex posts if the use of the sidewalk plow does not create safe conditions for cyclists and other roadway users.
During winter storms, crews will plow the bridge and use a sidewalk plow to clear the bicycle lanes as operations and conditions allow. Snow will also be removed from the sidewalks to allow for passage by pedestrians. During storm operations and snow cleanup efforts, it may be necessary for crews to close the bridge to traffic or implement lane closures in order to remove snow and ice from the vehicular lanes, bicycle lanes and sidewalks using front-end loaders and other equipment.
This winter, on an ongoing basis, MassDOT engineers will evaluate the effectiveness of these operations after each storm in order to determine whether this method allows for safe and reliable travel for all road users and whether the flex posts should continue to remain in place on the bridge or be removed.
The public should note that snow may gather between the flex posts during winter weather events given the limited ability to plow in this area and bridge users should adjust their travel accordingly. Cyclists should travel with caution following storms, as the road surface may not be dry and some flex posts may have been impacted by snow clearing operations.
MassDOT’s primary goal is to ensure conditions are safe for all road users and ice and snow crews will prioritize clearing motor vehicle travel lanes as this bridge is a key crossing between Cambridge and Boston for ambulances and emergency vehicles. MassDOT encourages cyclists to consider walking bicycles over the bridge if conditions deteriorate and compromise safety.
MassDOT recognizes the importance of this roadway as a primary route for emergency vehicles, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians and works to ensure that conditions are as accessible as possible during a storm event. The Draft Statewide Pedestrian Plan and the upcoming Draft Statewide Bicycle Plan both address the need to ensure winter maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian facilities to allow access by multimodal travelers.
The Longfellow Bridge spans the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge, and on an average weekday, carries 107,000 MBTA Red Line passengers, 21,600 motor vehicles, 4,800 pedestrians, and 2,400 bicyclists.
Motorists are reminded that the speed limit along the Longfellow Bridge is 25 miles per hour. During winter storms, travelers should reduce speeds, drive the conditions and devote their full attention to what is ahead on the road.