Why the BU Bridge Is So Messed Up
Explanations don’t change the timeline; repairs will last for years
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Why is the BU Bridge in such bad shape? What will multiyear repairs really accomplish? In the video above, Jack Murray, deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, tries to answer the questions and put the best foot forward.
Two more years.
That’s how long state officials say the BU Bridge will remain snarled by construction and reduced to one lane in both directions, guaranteeing a nightmarish commute by car or bike or on foot.
The bridge that bears the University’s name is an icon in the BU community and a historic landmark by state reckoning. It’s also key to our area’s traffic flow — or clog, at present. On average, 35,000 vehicles a day try to cross its crippled span of the Charles River. And despite increased police presence on both the Cambridge and the Boston approaches, single-lane access has reduced traffic to a crawl, forcing bicyclists into no-win choices — defy death in the car lane? ram pedestrians on the single narrow sidewalk? — and reducing the quality (and possibly length) of life for anyone who navigates the Charles River Campus.
On November 1, the bridge became a charge of the revamped Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which took control of infrastructure that had been managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), itself an inheritor from the defunct Metropolitan District Commission. Not that commuters will see a difference — work will continue, deadlines will not change, and snarls will not untangle.
“We apologize,” says Jack Murray, DCR deputy commissioner, noting that decades of neglect has reduced the famed bridge to an unsightly, perhaps even dangerous, state. While his candor acknowledges the obvious, it doesn’t change the fact that juniors and seniors (perhaps sophomores too) will graduate without ever seeing the BU Bridge as it was meant to look.
Seth Rolbein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.