The DOT meeting at the MGH Institute was well attended by Rep. Dan Ryan and many residents from the North End, Navy Yard, Charlestown and beyond. Presenters included DOT officials, engineers and bridge architect Miguel Rosales who explained new highlights of the attractive bridge design that now include a dedicated bus lane from Sullivan Square to within 500 feet of Keaney Square. When the bridge is complete there will be two car lanes in each direction. A well protected bike lane run alongside the east and west pedestrian walkways, a first for Boston bridges. If the permitting process is not delayed, the DOT may go out for bids as soon as summer 2017. The earliest start date is projected to be Fall 2017, but more likely March 2018. The entire project will require 3 ½ years to complete.
The audience was invited to ask questions at the conclusion of the DOT presentation. Numerous speakers queried the DOT about its plans for traffic mitigation, especially when traffic congestion is already a growing problem on N Washington Street, at Sullivan Square, and on Chelsea Street adjacent to the Navy Yard, all areas where traffic is expected to become increasingly exacerbated by an imminent housing development on Bunker Hill Street, and construction of the Rope Walk apartment complex and Chain Forge Hotel in the Navy Yard.
Ed Cardinali, a NYCA member, spoke about the urgent need for expanded water transportation in the harbor. Ivey St John, of the Charlestown Waterfront Coalition, asked the DOT to come back at their next meeting with a water transportation plan and to start coordinating with the BRA and related city entities. Jack Boyle, another NYCA member, spoke in support of immediate expansion of ferry transportation to help ameliorate traffic concerns. He also urged the DOT to coordinate with city entities and stated that it appears “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. What’s so difficult?” NYCA member Christine Colley advocated for effective regulation of the proposed bus lane so automobile drivers will not abuse it. Other speakers expressed concern about the potential negative impact of the bridge project on Charlestown businesses and real estate values.