Boston’s iconic Longfellow Bridge serves as a poster child for public transit. Every few minutes, the bridge transports Red Line commuters between Boston and Cambridge, affording its passengers a breathtaking view of the Charles River and Boston skyline– and the parallel lanes of bumper-to-bumper vehicle traffic that the speeding train leaves in its wake. While that’s a positive situation for MBTA riders, it’s a dangerous one for the rest of the city’s commuters who don’t cross the bridge by car– cyclists and pedestrians.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Highway Division had released plans to rebuild the historic bridge as is. In May 2010, CLF advocated for an alternative plan that would make the bridge more bike and pedestrian-friendly. In response to CLF’s call to action, MassDOT created the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Task Force, which recently released its recommendations on what alternatives should be included in the project’s Environmental Assessment to submit to the Federal Highway Administration.
Last week, CLF submitted written comments to the Administrator of the Highway Division at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in response to those recommendations. In a letter to MasDOT Highway Division Administrator Luisa Paiewonsky, CLF explained that to comply with federal and state law, MassDOT should include at least one strong alternative plan for presentation and analysis that retains the current structure of the bridge throughout while altering its traffic pattern so that only one lane exists in both directions with a two-lane release into Charles Circle on the Boston side. Such an alternative would uphold the structural and architectural integrity of the bridge, help the state reach its health and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and improve safety for bikers and pedestrians.