BU Today

Campus Life

State to Public: Stay Away during Comm Ave Bridge Shutdown

Officials urge vigilance despite last year’s snafu-free closure


Just because last summer’s Commonwealth Avenue bridge shutdown went smoothly, don’t think the two-weeks-plus closure starting tomorrow evening will be a nothingburger.

Massachusetts officials trumpeted that message at a bridge-side press conference yesterday, hoping to snuff any public complacency before workers close the heavily trafficked bridge Thursday at 7 pm to replace the 50-year-old span’s westbound lane. The state replaced the eastbound lane last year.

“If you think that the success that we had last year means that you can come through here and check out the bridge project or anywhere you have to go unimpeded, you will be sorely mistaken,” Jonathan Gulliver, highway administrator with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), told reporters at the briefing.

The bridge carries Comm Ave motorists, bikers, and pedestrians, as well as MBTA Green Line trolleys, over the Massachusetts Turnpike and MBTA commuter rail tracks. “More than 200,000 people pass over or under this bridge, using various forms of travel, every single day,” Gulliver said. “That’s enough to fill Fenway Park five times.”

A digital sign over the Massachusetts Interstate reads It's Coming, It's Bad, Comm Ave Bridge Friday

Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Transportation

To make sure people get the message, MassDOT has put electronic signs about the work around Boston that digitally declare, “IT’S COMING. IT’S BAD.”

The closure is scheduled to last until August 11. Traffic detours and accommodations for area residents and employees will be in place during the work; information on those and other aspects of the project may be found here.

State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said last summer’s minimal problems during the eastbound work was the result of the public listening to the advice of state officials, making alternate plans, and generally staying away from the area. “We saw substantially lower volumes of people,” she said, “and that kept the backups down and much less bad than we feared they would be.”

BU and the state have encouraged employees, where possible, to take vacation during the closure or work from home.

Workers will labor around the clock during the closure and use prefabricated components, holding the project’s duration to 15-and-a-half days. Pollack said without this accelerated process, the work replacing both lanes of the bridge would have taken up to five years.

The bridge, she said, is “structurally deficient. That doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. It’s safe for travel, but it’s nearing the end of its useful life.”

The state scheduled the work during summer’s reduced traffic over the bridge. Replacing the westbound lane will involve 215 concrete deck panels and 680 cubic yards of concrete for sealing them, as well as 45 steel beams and 520 tons of asphalt.

The replacement of the bridge is part of a major renovation of Comm Ave scheduled to end in 2019.

Rich Barlow, Senior Writer, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

4 Comments on State to Public: Stay Away during Comm Ave Bridge Shutdown

  • Christina on 07.25.2018 at 11:26 am

    How will the construction affect the BU shuttle schedule/route?

    • Tom Daley on 07.25.2018 at 1:02 pm

      The BU Shuttle will continue to operate during the construction period with the following minimal stop relocations.

      As of 7AM on July 26th, the Student Village 2 (M1) stop be moved across the street from its usual location and closer to Nickerson Field.
      As of 7PM on July 26th, the BUS will be unable to stop at Marsh Plaza (C6) and will instead stop one block east, prior to Granby Street.
      As of 7PM on July 26th, the BUS will be unable to stop at College of Fine Arts (C7).
      Shuttles will run as scheduled, but delays resulting from traffic along the route will be inevitable. Users should consult the BU Mobile App for live shuttle locations and estimated arrivals as well as Twitter (@BUShuttle) and the BUS website for service alerts.

      Please note that the MBTA will be using green Peter Pan buses to replace Green Line B Branch Service between Babcock and Blandford Streets. These ARE NOT part of the BU Shuttle Service.

      For latest up to the minute information see:http://www.bu.edu/capbridge/

  • Johan Sebastian Martinez-Fuentes on 07.25.2018 at 2:07 pm

    I heard pedestrians and bicyclists walking their bikes can still pass through the bridge. Is this true?

Post Your Comment

(never shown)