Hello again - back at it on a Monday. A sweaty, thick, gross Monday. I know I'm a traffic reporter and not a meteorologist, but this is just getting ridiculous. Anyone else feel like they unwittingly moved to Florida?
Anyway, I've got one question from the mailbag to get to today. I'd love to hear more of your questions. I'm running low in the bag and am curious to hear what you want to know about commuting in the city. You can submit them using the box to the right, or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Let's be honest... if you don't give me questions, what other excuse do I have to sit in front of the AC?)
Here we go...
"Several times a week, I have to commute to Harvard Square for work. I often take North Harvard Street from Brighton to get into the square, and cross over the river on the bridge between Soldiers Field Road and Memorial Drive. I know there is construction working on the bridge, but just how long will it be there? The traffic can get really backed up in the morning and I'm curious how long I'll have to plan extra time for."
I'm very familiar with the area you're talking about, Martha, so I can tell you exactly what's up. The bridge is called the Larz Anderson Bridge, or the Anderson Memorial Bridge (depending on who you talk to). The Department of Transportation is doing work on this bridge as part of the Accelerated Bridges Program. Some other bridges in the program are the BU Bridge, the Craigie Drawbridge and the Longfellow Bridge. The DOT is aiming to repair these bridges, and others across the state, in a big group project that should be finished sometime in 2016.
Unfortunately for your commute, Martha, they will be working on this specific bridge for quite some time - the DOT estimates this whole project will wrap up in the fall of 2014.
So, what are they doing, exactly? It's a $400 million undertaking, in which they're essentially trying to give the somewhat-dated bridge (that, for what it's worth, has its own place on the State and National Register of Historic Places!) some new life.
According to the DOT:
The goals of the Anderson Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation Project are to improve the bridge's structural integrity and enhance accessibility. The project will repair deteriorated elements of the bridge, upgrade structural capacity and improve local street connections and accessibility. The project also includes landscape restoration and storm water upgrades. The proposed rehabilitation will respect the documented historic status of this landmark structure and preserve as many of the original elements as possible.
I was talking with Jeff Parenti, the Principal Traffic Engineer for the city of Cambridge, recently about this very bridge and the hefty traffic. You may have noticed, Martha, that there's now left turn restrictions getting onto Memorial Drive and JFK Street right near the bridge. They've deliberately altered that to prevent the hefty backups the project was dealing with just weeks ago.
Jeff also told me they've modified the signals to expedite pedestrian crossing of the roads, and the city's in the process of installing a bus and bike only lane leading up to the bridge. So, with any luck, that'll cut down on your traffic time.
Learn more about the Anderson Memorial Bridge project here.
Which bridges are coming up next, you may wonder? The Western Avenue and River Street bridges will both need repair, and the Longfellow Bridge will also start to see construction delays soon. Watch for those - I'll let you know when everything starts up there.
You may remember from this entry that I had mentioned the new MBTA See/Say Something app did not have an Android counterpart, and was only available for iPhone. I spoke with Brian at Elerts, the company that created the app, and he says the Android version should be available soon. Keep an eye out for it! I'll let you know my thoughts on it when I can get it on my phone.
UPDATE (to the update!): Brian has just informed me that the app is now available for Android on the Google Play store - download it here. I'll do the same and have a review for you later this week.
Have you downloaded the new app? If so, what are your thoughts?
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