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Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone calls on state to demolish McGrath overpass

Posted by Matt Byrne  May 31, 2012 12:50 PM

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Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone is calling on the state to demolish the aging McGrath Highway overpass, on the eve of a meeting of state and local planners gathering to decide what to do with the more than 50-year-old structure and the busy roadways that surround around it.

"It's no secret that the City believes this elevated roadway should be eliminated," Curtatone said in a statement Wednesday. "We think bringing McGrath down to street level would help integrate Brickbottom and Innerbelt with the rest of the city while enhancing both the physical appearance and the development potential of the entire district."

State transportation planners' discussion of repairs, estimated to cost $10 million, will be be in contract to Curtatone and the city's recently finalized long-term plan for the city.

The SomerVision plan called for the city to conduct a study of options to eliminate the barrier created by the Highway so it may reconnect Brickbottom and the Innerbelt with the future Green Line station and the rest of the city.

Curtatone said in the statement that he understands the state's urgent need to address safety concerns, and thanked officials for hearing the city's point of view.

"We hope that MassDOT will find a way to balance our strong preferences with their immediate operational concerns, and we will come to Thursday’s meeting with open minds and with a willingness to hear how MassDOT plans to approach both the long-term fate of this eyesore and the short-term operational and safety requirements of our regional highway system," he said.

State planners are expected to give a short presentation on the fixes before answering questions. The meeting is slated for 6 p.m. at Argenziano School Cafeteria, at 290 Washington St. in Somerville.

The Department of Transportation plan calls for major overhauls to the overpass, which runs atop Washington Street, including repair or replacement of its concrete decking, joints, safety walks, under-structure, and parapets.

The project is included in the $3 billion accelerated bridge replacement program initiated by Governor Deval Patrick's administration. The same project included last summer's 93Fast14 project, which replaced 14 overpasses along I-93 between Boston and Medford.

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