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Bridge between Harvard Square and Allston getting bike lanes

Posted by Brock Parker  August 23, 2011 11:32 PM

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State transportation officials are moving forward with a plan to add bike lanes and reduce the number of motor vehicle lanes on the Anderson Memorial Bridge between Harvard Square and Allston.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is planning to put the $16 million bridge rehabilitation project out to bid within the next two weeks in hopes that construction will start in April of next year, said project manager Tracy Osimboni.

Osimboni and consultants presented the completed bridge design for the project to a crowd of about 30 people in Cambridge’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School Tuesday night.

The 96-year-old bridge is the primary connection between two Harvard University campuses, and is one of several key Charles River crossings being rehabilitated or restored as part of the state’s $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program. Major construction has already completed on the Craigie Bridge and Craigie Drawbridge, rehabilitation work is underway on the BU and Longfellow bridges and planning is underway to rehabilitate the Western Avenue and River Street bridges, Osimboni said.

Paul Harrington, a project consultant from Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, Inc., said that the rehabilitation of the Anderson Memorial Bridge will eliminate one of two southbound lanes traveling from Cambridge over the bridge toward Allston. However, there will be a left turning lane to access Storrow Drive from the bridge while another southbound lane will travel straight onto North Harvard Street in Allston.

The northbound side of the bridge will retain two lanes traveling towards Cambridge and bike lanes will be established on the north and southbound sides of the bridge along with sidewalks.

A redesign for traffic patterns will prohibit all left hand turns at the intersection of Memorial Drive with the bridge and JFK Street in Cambridge.

Several people, including Wendy Landman from the non-profit group Walk Boston, balked at plans to allow cars to turn right at red lights at the bridge because they argued the turning cars will make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross the street.

While the bridge rehabilitation design has been completed, Osimboni said transportation officials will further discuss whether right-on-red turns should be allowed.

The rehabilitation construction will be conducted in several phases, but at least one lane of traffic will remain open in each direction during the work. If the project is completed on schedule the major construction would be completed by the spring of 2014, Harrington said.

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