For more beautiful bridges

There are many important subjects to consider after Wednesday's meeting on the reconstruction of the Western Ave and River St bridges. (The presentation from the meeting can be downloaded here). Safe bridges that are accessible and accommodating for transportation and recreation are a must. For this post, I'd like to consider how the bridges look, what people can see from them, and how to make pedestrians safer.

According to the Charles River Master Plan, these bridges were the subject of a 1923 design competition to create bridges that would be "worthy expressions of the best that a cultured community can create." While I appreciate the graceful arches of the bridges when they are viewed from a distance, it is hard to find anything beautiful about the bridges when one is on the bridge.



With this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild and reconsider these bridges, it seems appropriate to rethink both how the bridges look and function. The bridges won't be rebuilt entirely as part of this project, but there will be extensive reconstruction and some portions of the bridges will be completely rebuilt.



One possibility is to add a barrier between the roadway and the sidewalk. This would protect pedestrians by preventing cars in an accident from ending up on the sidewalk. It would also make it possible to use a railing instead of a wall between the sidewalk and the water, as is done on the Mass Ave Bridge a couple miles away. Children who are not tall enough to see over the existing wall would particularly enjoy the view through the railing, especially when watching rowers and other boats below.

In any case, after 87 years I think it is again time to consider what might be "the best that a cultured community can create."

9 comments:

  1. You fail to mention the least safe bridge of all: the footbridge into N. Allston. Mugging after mugging, graffiti, garbage...year after year after year.

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  2. I have mentioned the Franklin St overpass area in the past and agree with you about the many problems there.

    http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2007/09/in-case-you-want-reminder-about-danger.html

    http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2007/05/bicyclist-killed-in-allston.html

    http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2008/04/trying-in-vain-to-make-allston-shine.html

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  3. I guess I was referring to that particular post. Glad to see you've covered it (and many other issues :) in the past

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  4. I've also included in letters in the past about the Franklin St. footbridge, and how unsafe it is. As a matter of fact, a neighbor was surrounded by a bunch of kids w/a knife waiting on the Lincoln St side about a week ago. That there is no truly safe pedestrian passage over the pike has negatively impacted the quality of life of anyone who wishes to walk into Allston after dark.

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  5. Yikes. I had no idea the Franklin Street footbridge was so dangerous. I take it all the time and all I ever see are lonely punks with ipods.

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  6. Is the Everett Street bridge any safer? One of my life goals is to never get mugged.

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  7. I have at least 3 friends who have been mugged on the footbridge and one friend mugged on the Everett St bridge steps.

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  8. Oh good. I live between the two so with any luck I can get mugged four times this year in the comfort of my own yard.

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  9. The Cambridge Street bridge seems reasonably safe, although I realize it's just a step away from the Franklin St pedestrian overpass..

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