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Northern Avenue Bridge to become Boston's latest garden spot

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  November 19, 2012 12:26 PM

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Harbor Link Gardens rendering.jpg

(The Boston Harbor Association)

The Boston Harbor Association plans to install a garden on the aging Northern Avenue Bridge.

The Boston Harbor Association has received a $50,000 grant to install a garden on the Northern Avenue Bridge connecting the downtown waterfront and the Seaport District.

The Boston Committee of the Garden Club of America presented the grant at its annual meeting on Nov. 15. The new horticultural display, to be called the Harbor-Link Gardens, will include hardy seaside plants and new colored pavement and will be designed by Warner Larson, an award-winning South Boston-based landscape architecture firm donating its services to the project.

“The old Northern Avenue Bridge is a vital link between two important areas of our city, and this generous support will help to set a standard for future plantings and sustainable design along the waterfront,” said Vivien Li, president of The Boston Harbor Association, in a statement released by the association.

The steel-truss bridge over the Fort Point Channel is more than 100 years old and was once busy with vehicles, according to past Boston Globe articles, but due to deterioration has long been limited to pedestrian use. Mayor Thomas M. Menino once wanted to tear down the bridge, and in 1999 vetoed a unanimous vote of the Boston Landmarks Commission that would have preserved it.

Menino said then that designating the 646-foot span a landmark “would only force upon the city an unfunded mandate and limit the city’s flexibility to address long-term transportation needs, including federal requirements of the US Coast Guard to keep the Fort Point Channel open to navigation.”

But Menino backed down from that position after the Evelyn Moakley Bridge was built adjacent to the old bridge, and in the statement released by the association, he voiced support for its vision.

“Beautifying this bridge will attract more visitors to the popular Harborwalk and act as a fitting gateway to our rapidly growing Innovation District,” Menino said in the statement. “Improving the Northern Avenue Bridge will also create a visual link to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and I commend the partnership of public, private, and non-profit sectors to help get the job done.”

The Boston Committee of the Garden Club of America is funded by its membership of 1,100 women in 14 garden clubs across Greater Boston and southern New Hampshire.

Chairwoman Michele Hanss said in the statement that the committee’s mission is “to support horticultural initiatives in Boston that can have an impact on a greater number of people than similar projects each of our member clubs undertake in our individual communities.”

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