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Quincy, Weymouth councils criticize Fore River Bridge design

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 19, 2011 11:17 AM

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Provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation

One of the conceptual renderings from state officials.

Quincy and Weymouth officials are up in arms after a recent public meeting on the proposed Fore River Bridge showed preliminary bridge designs that they considered less than satisfactory.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is still considering designs to replace the 1936 bridge that connects Weymouth to Quincy, yet after a year’s worth of work on the subject, the team has made little progress towards a resolution.

“The bridge they have proposed is unacceptable,” said City Councilor Daniel Raymondi during a council meeting Tuesday night. “The promises they made were far superior to the plans on the ground.”

The bridge has sparked quite some controversy as residents wait to get the temporary “erector-set” bridge replaced.

Although many locals favor a bascule bridge, a sort of double drawbridge similar to the original design, MassDOT is leaning in the “vertical-lift” bridge direction, a bridge with an elevated roadway for passing boats underneath that would replicate the temporary bridge in place now.

The channel width must also be at least 225 feet, creating difficulties for residents who would like to see the shorter bascule bridge, which isn’t made to expand that width.

It's a notion many in the Weymouth Town Council find ridiculous.

"They suggest that the channel needs to be widened to 250 ft. I just don’t’ believe from my research and listening to residents that we don’t need to have a 250 foot channel," said Weymouth Councilor Brian McDonald. "It's for giant tankers that we never see here. And if they do that, that would require a huge dredging project. ..we don’t see that there’s a need."

Weymouth has submitted that the MassDOT reject the vertical-lift design in favor of a bascule bridge, and would also like to see a full environmental impact study done to weigh the outcome of construction in the area.

Even still, the incentive moves beyond just the two towns. With 30,000 vehicles traveling on that bridge daily, Quincy officials have named the bridge “The Gateway to the South Shore,” and expect the bridge to bear a design worthy of that name.

“I would expect that the design be appropriate to the importance this bridge holds to Quincy and the South Shore," Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said in a press release.

Those sentiments were echoed by Raymondi and other council members as they discussed the bridge’s visual impact on Quincy during a remonstrance period of Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“We’ll be reaching out. We’ve already started to with legislators throughout the South Shore,” Keenan said. “We’ll have a meeting at the state level with the design team, and something that came up this morning is to meet with the architect and consult on this project…we’ll figure out what has led them to this point and make every effort for them to move off of it.”

Councilor Raymondi asked that the item be put on the agenda for the next City Council meeting on Feb. 7, and also called for the mayor to gather state representatives to discuss the issue.

“We need to send a loud, strong, firm message to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the MassDOT that the bridge that they have proposed is not acceptable, it’s not acceptable to elected officials, to residents of the community, to the business of the community … We can do better. We must do better,” Raymondi said.

Public comment is due to MassDOT by Jan. 26, and can be e-mailed or mailed to the department through the project’s website.

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