Craigie Bridge Rehab to Cause Traffic Disruptions

Healy Public Safety Facility, Cambridge – map

On Wednesday, September 29th, I hosted a community information meeting to discuss the upcoming Craigie Drawbridge rehabilitation project and the impact that it will have on the East Cambridge neighborhood. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who attended the meeting and made their suggestions and concerns heard.

Representatives from MassDOT came to the Robert Healy Public Safety Facility on 6th Street in Cambridge to present an overview of the upcoming project and to receive feedback from the community about their plans. They made it very clear that the commute in, around, and through East Cambridge will be ugly this winter. The Craigie Drawbridge, which carries the McGrath O’Brien Highway from Land Boulevard in Cambridge to Leverett Circle in Boston, will be closed to traffic traveling from Cambridge to Boston for a total of 15 weeks this winter. Beginning on November 1st and continuing through April, an extensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Craigie Drawbridge will be undertaken as part of the Massachusetts Accelerated Bridge Program. Because the bridge is a drawbridge serving an active waterway, work on the bridge must be conducted under a Coast Guard permit which requires it to be done during the winter months when boat traffic is at its lightest. Due to this time constraint, the work will be performed on the bridge around the clock for the duration of the project.

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The bridge repairs will be undertaken in three phases that will bring varying degrees of traffic disruption to the area. From November 6th until the end of November, Phase 1 of the project will require that two lanes on the bridge be closed. Only the outbound lanes from Boston to Cambridge will be open. During Phase 2 of the project, which will stretch from the end of November until mid-January, 4 lanes of traffic will be open, with two going in each direction. The third and final Phase will begin in mid-January and continue through April, and will require the two lanes inbound from Cambridge to Boston to be closed in the same manner that they will be during Phase 1.

In order to limit the impact to traffic in the area, MassDOT has put together a plan that includes detours and advanced signage to warn drivers of the lane closures and direct them to alternate routes. Light timings and lane striping will be adjusted in the area to optimize traffic flow to the extent possible. MassDOT has said that they will be monitoring the traffic issues created by the lane closures closely with cameras and on-site observers, and will have a command center set up at the district headquarters to monitor and resolve issues surrounding the project.

With that said, I am disappointed that MassDOT has chosen a traffic plan that will disproportionately impact commuters and residents in Somerville and Cambridge, and that the majority of the increased traffic burden will be suffered on our side of the river. I, along with my fellow City Council members, had expressed to MassDOT our hope that they would implement a traffic plan that would allow one lane of traffic to flow in each direction during the phases of the project in which the bridge will be cut down to two lanes. Although I understand MassDOT’s concerns about keeping Leverett Circle clear of excess traffic on the Boston side of the bridge, I feel that a solution that would have spread the traffic impact more equally to both sides would have been better, and I am unhappy that they will be continuing with the plan that will close the bridge to traffic from Cambridge.

As the start of the project looms closer, I will be continuing to monitor the preparations being made to ensure that the negative impacts to our community are limited in every way possible. My office has set up a third public information meeting about this project so that residents of East Somerville, and anyone else who may wish to attend, may be able to learn about the impact the bridge replacement will have for them, and that they may voice their questions and concerns about the project to MassDOT. The meeting will be held with members of the Somerville state delegation and the Somerville Board of Alderman, and will happen on October 26th from 6pm to 8pm at Somerville City Hall. For more information about this meeting or the Craigie Drawbridge Rehabilitation, click here to download an informational flyer, or contact my office at 617-722-2380.

I will be posting more information about this project as its start date gets closer, so stay tuned.

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