Construction on the new $244 million Fore River Bridge is officially under way, yet some local authorities are questioning how the project will affect their communities.
In a letter to Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan voiced concerns that his community wasn’t prepared enough to deal with the consequences of the construction.
“Braintree, as an abutting town to this project, may have negative traffic impacts on our local roads as traffic looks to avoid the bridge during construction,” Sullivan wrote.
Although Sullivan said he met with Davey on Jan. 9 to discuss his misgivings, and that state Representative Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) also voiced concerns to state transportation officials, more needs to be done.
Sullivan proposed a public meeting to occur in Braintree in either February or March alongside the East Braintree Civic Association to discuss potential impacts.
Though state transportation officials held an informational meeting on Jan. 15, Sullivan is looking to have Braintree’s specific needs addressed.
“We need to take the next step and make sure this bridge is rebuilt that … it doesn’t have continuing negative impacts to a town such as Braintree,” Sullivan said in a phone interview. “We’re not physically attached with the Fore River, but we are impacted by its operations and we will be during its construction. So let’s be realistic and deal with it and be proactive and not reactive.”
Sullivan said the main concern stemmed off of the Braintree/Weymouth landing, as residents most likely will be using Quincy Avenue to avoid delays or rerouting that will inevitably occur alongside the project.
Feeder streets off of Quincy Avenue, such as Hayward Street, Howard Street, and Shaw Street, voiced concerns that they too would be affected.
“I think it’s important that we measure and monitor the traffic conditions, not only at the start of the project, but throughout the project,” Sullivan said. “My hope is we get out front on it.”
Sullivan said that the MassDOT was already aware the project would have impacts outside the bridge area, hence the reworking of East Howard Street and Quincy Avenue.
Even that project required a bit more explanation, Sullivan said. “I want to make sure Braintree is protected and positioned to be able to respond to the potential foreseen impacts,” Sullivan said.
The bridge carries an estimated 32,000 vehicles across Route 3A a day, and has an expected lifetime of 75 years.
According to MassDOT’s project website, the new project will consist of two 12-foot eastbound and two 12-foot westbound lanes.
There will also be a five-foot bicycle accommodating shoulder and a sidewalk in both directions.
According to spokesperson Michael Verseckes with MassDOT, the mayor's requests have been heard.
"We will be scheduling a meeting in Braintree to talk about the overview of the project, the impacts particularly traffic…and the sequence of construction," he said.