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MBTA gives update on Fairmount Line bridge replacements

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  April 14, 2011 01:42 PM

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Fairmount improvements map.jpg

(Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority/The Louis Berger Group Inc.)


This aerial photograph, which runs south to north from left to right, shows the sites of the three bridges to be replaced, as well as the Hollingsoworth Dam and another bridge farther north. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)

With work underway to improve three bridges crossing the Neponset River on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, the MBTA hosted a meeting this week to introduce Hyde Park residents to the project team and discuss the work schedule and community concerns.

Work on the bridge replacements — part of a larger set of improvements to the Fairmount Line — began about a month ago and is scheduled for completion within two and a half years. The northernmost bridge being replaced, designated Bridge 220.78 by the state, lies just northeast of Fairmount Station, adjacent to the West Street dead end at the edge of the river. Bridge 220.78 has been redesigned by Jacobs Engineering Group and will be built by Barletta Heavy Division Inc.

The other two, to be repaired under a separate contract, lie further down the line, away from the city center.

The first of those, Bridge 220.35, is just on the other side of Fairmount station, immediately southeast of Walnut Street and northwest of the Truman Parkway. The other, Bridge 219.74, is about is about six-tenths of a mile further southwest toward Readville Station, just west of the Martini Playground. Bridges 220.35 and 219.74 have been redesigned by The Louis Berger Group Inc. and will be built by S&R Construction Enterprises.

Questioned by Readville neighborhood activist Martha McDonough at the April 11 meeting, engineer Malek Al-Khatib said the construction crew would access the southernmost bridge through MBTA and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company property as much as possible, rather than by public roads. And a representative for S&R Construction said there would be a minimum of trucks going in and out and a detail officer on site to ensure public safety.

In response to questions by other neighborhood residents, the planners and contractors offered further assurances that any interruptions to resident use of adjacent land and roads would be minimal and that all appropriate safety precautions would be taken.

But they were unprepared for a question by Kathy Driscoll, who lives on the bank of the Neponset River just north of West Street and sometimes takes her kayak out on the water.

“Should I bring an air horn to signal when I want to pass under [the bridge]?” she asked, wondering whether she could go on as usual or if access to the river would be cut off for kayakers and canoeists during construction.

“This is the first time anyone has brought this up about kayaking here,” said Pablo Calderon, public meeting communication and coordination specialist for the MBTA Design and Construction Department. Calderon said the planning team would have to examine the issue and respond to the community at a later date.

Another unexpected question came from a man who asked about the opportunity for young people from the local community to get work on these projects. Representatives for both construction companies said they were willing to hire locally, but because they use unionized workers applicants would have to be union members.

Calderon said the MBTA is currently working with YouthBuild USA to develop a program that would help young people get work on transportation projects with the authority, but that as a state agency it does not fall under the Boston Residents Jobs Policy requiring contractors to hire set percentages of women, racial minorities and community residents.

“The MBTA is a commonwealth agency. We serve 197 cities and towns,” Calderon said. “Therefore, our workforce can come from all 197 cities and towns as long as they meet whatever the criteria might be.”

Calderon closed the meeting by encouraging the community to come to him with any further questions or concerns by sending an email to pcalderon@mbta.com.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.

bridge wear.jpg

(Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority/The Louis Berger Group Inc.)


All three bridges are old and badly worn. This eroded concrete pier supporting the northernmost of the three bridges will be eliminated entirely in the new bridge design.

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