(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
It’s been three years since Leon Rivera petitioned the MBTA to fix up the rusting pedestrian bridge that spans the Fairmount Commuter Rail tracks and connects Ceylon Street to Bird Street in Dorchester.
But little has been done. The graffiti, rust, and mangled chain link fence continue to worsen.
“We collected signatures, we had a meeting, and we looked at the issue,” said Rivera, 23, who lives a few blocks from the structure. “There are stairs that are loose; there is rust everywhere; and they [the MBTA] told us they would get it done.”
But Rivera said his main concern is the inadequate or broken lighting that makes the bridge dangerous.
“You can’t see who’s up there, and there have been purse snatchings,” Rivera said. “It’s a major connection to Columbia Road and other parts of the neighborhood; kids use it a lot, and it’s pitch black at night.”
Finding out who will take responsibility for the condition of the bridge is proving to be daunting.
It was built by the T, but a spokesperson for the transit agency said the city is in charge of maintaining it. The T added that there has been lighting on the bridge in the past, but it was removed because it kept getting vandalized.
A spokesperson from the mayor’s office, however, said the city is in charge of the lighting at the base of the bridge but is not responsibel for lights on the structure itself.
A recent visit to the bridge by Boston.com found that the street light closest to the bridge was broken. The mayor’s office said Wednesday that a work crew would be sent out to address the situation.
A repaired street light might be welcome news, but it does little to remedy the situation on the bridge.
State Representative Carlos Henriquez, whose district includes the bridge, is sympathetic to the problem. During his first year in office in 2011, he said, he walked around the site with Richard Davey, then the T's general manager, and the two talked about fixing the bridge. “Then the GM got promoted and the project never got completed,” he said.
Henriquez acknowledged that the T has done a better job at maintaining the area around the bridge, cutting back weeds and securing fencing, but said the lighting is still an issue.
“I crossed that bridge as a kid, and I know what it’s like,” Henriquez said. “We need to stay vigilant on this issue.”
Rivera is not alone in his disgust over the bridge's condition. After posting a picture of the bridge to his Facebook account, he saw a slew of comments come in, talking about friends that had been robbed or family members who had hurt themselves climbing the bridge's rickety steps.
"It’s not safe for children, it’s not safe for the elderly, and something needs to happen,” he said.