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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

We want to hear from you — so start a conversation, share a thought or comment, and let us know what you think.

Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

Urge City Hall & key agencies to preserve the Northern Avenue Bridge

Now is a critical time for you to call for a sustainable preservation solution.

February 18th, 2016  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance


The City of Boston has taken its first steps toward taking down the century-old Northern Avenue Bridge, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard have warned is in a state of severe deterioration. Though key decision makers at City Hall have expressed interest in considering a preservation-oriented solution, the City has not decided on the bridge’s long-term future. Moving the bridge to East Boston may remove the threat of collapse but does not provide assurance that it will be repaired and returned as a functioning bridge.

Now is a critical time for YOU to call for a preservation solution that returns the bridge to Fort Point.

From now through Tuesday, March 1st, you have the opportunity to share your opinions and concerns about the future of the Northern Avenue Bridge with key decision makers, including City Hall. Before any work on the bridge can begin, the City must obtain several federal, state and local authorizations, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Each of these agencies have issued official correspondence and are seeking public comment.

Public input is an essential component of this process. We’ve included proposed language below, but feel free to modify it and send to the addresses below as you see fit.

Your correspondence will be received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Massachusetts Historical Commission and filed as part of the required public comment period associated with both federal (Section 106) and state (950 CMR 71.07(3)) review. Your input matters!

Voice your support for the preservation of the Northern Avenue Bridge:

Dear Mr. Kevin Kotelly, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Ms. Brona Simon, Mass. Historical Commission,

I write today regarding Boston’s Northern Avenue Bridge in response to both the U.S. Army Corps’ “Public Notice” (and associated Section 106 Review) and Mass. Historical Commission’s “State Register Consultation” (950 CMR 71.07(3))and your invitations for public comment.

I feel strongly that the Northern Avenue Bridge is an integral element of Boston’s culture and environment which should be preserved. The bridge is an important, character-defining feature of the Fort Point District and the city as a whole. Its loss would mark a significant degradation of the historic neighborhood and the historic features that are so important to defining the City of Boston. A repaired bridge is the best solution to the city’s needs. It can continue to be a city icon while supporting transportation needs to the growing Seaport area and would be a far preferable solution to a new bridge. A restored bridge would represent the city’s unique character of blending old and new and can become a revitalized city feature.

I urge both the U.S. Army Corps and Mass. Historical Commission to require a Memorandum of Agreement that places the proposed disassembly and move of the bridge within a larger framework for the reconstruction, repair and return of the historic bridge. Placing the bridge in East Boston with no additional steps would not meet the requirements for treatment of a historic structure of this significance.

I request to be considered a “consulting party” and informed of future meetings, discussions, and actions on the bridge. We urge your agencies to hold public hearings on the matter.


[Your Name]

Send your letter of support for the Northern Avenue Bridge to the following addresses, or via email to, and

Massachusetts Historical Commission
Attn: Brona Simon
220 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Attn: Kevin R. Kotelly, P.E.
New England District
696 Virginia Road
Concord, MA 01742-2751

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11 Responses

  1. Bill Lumsden says:

    Restore it, it was part of my childhood memories when my dad was at the Coast Guard base. Plus an old bridge in good shape is a rarity nowadays.

  2. Nancy H. Dean says:

    Since I have had eastern Massachusetts roots dating from 1620, The Boston area has always meant a lot to me.
    This bridge has significant historical value and its restoration would be in keeping with the rest of that area.

  3. john krall says:

    Northern Ave. can be used, and the bridge preservation can be done at the same time.
    1.Leave the bridge in its fully open position perpendicular to Northern Ave. Begin restoration work
    from each end inward to the middle. Or, one end at a time to facilitate step 2.
    2. Create and put in place temporary spans through the
    opened bridge connecting Northern Ave. capable of handling M/V’s up to full passenger MBTA bus weight and separate spacing for pedestrian foot traffic sidewalks. East and West. Using the opened bridge and its foundation as the central support mid channel.
    Move the temporary spans as needed to fully complete the opened bridge restoration.
    3. Return the bridge to its crossing channel position in fixed unmovable position, or operable as originally

  4. Joanne Pomodoro says:

    why would you take down something that has been part of the fabric of the community – why not restore it?

    if you don’t plan to restore it, please do not dump it in East Boston.

    I have lived here all my life – my family came to this country from Italy and raised their children here – I still live in East Boston and so tired of Eastie being the dumping ground for anything that the city doesn’t want in their own backyard..

    sick and tired of Eastie being the dumping ground for stolen, abandoned cars; for an airport everyone loves, as long as it isn’t in their section of town; gang violence and way station for anything and anyone illegal…

    did I mention sick and tired

  5. I would love to see the bridge fully restored as this was a bridge I walked over with my mother at times when I was a youngster in the 40’s and 50’s. We need to keep on the path of preservation, both with the Army Corp of Engineers, and the Historical comm. of Mass.
    I would have a weight limit on the bridge so that these long 65′ trailers or tour buses cannot use it. I also would like to see it lit up in the evenings to show off its beauhy

  6. Paula Goldberg-Czerwinski says:

    The wonderful Northern Avenue bridge has been part of my life for over 40 years. Please restore it. It is so much a part of the community and I’m sure it could be preserved as a viable working bridge.

  7. PJ Curran says:

    Take it away and dump it! There is absolutely no merit in the effort to preserve this ugly hulk. It should have been removed years ago. There are lots of better preservation efforts around town.

  8. Karen Foley says:

    I am a lifelong Boston resident. Please save the Northern Avenue Bridge, enough of the City has been torn down with no thought of the history, what people love about this city

  9. Charles Lucas says:

    The bridge speaks to another time, the Industrial Revolution, during our country’s ascendency. Most of the architecture in that area is tasteless and boring
    Keep that bridge where it is and use for pedestrians, bicycles and small cultural events.
    Bridges for auto traffic should be an anachronism by now. The area can not support existing traffic. Don’t invite more

  10. Elizabeth Hanna says:

    My late husband Steven Schwartz, who was a brilliant computer architect and mathematician, taught himself large format photography in the early 1990’s in order to embark on a project to photograph iron truss bridges throughout the northeast. The fruits of his work became an exhibit at the Museum of our National Heritage in Lexington, MA. As a result of his work and his research, I learned to appreciate the beauty and historical significance of these giants of the Industrial Age. The Northern Avenue Bridge is a great example of a swing bridge, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be preserved so that the school age engineers of tomorrow will have the chance to wonder at its mechanical uniqueness?

  11. John Childs says:

    I like the bridge and it’s connection to old Boston but I have serious concerns that it could ever be effectively restored since the underpinnings appear to be totally rotted. I’m no structural engineer but it doesn’t look good. I think it might be better to design a new pedestrian bridge using the same architectural style and possibly a few of the original elements. Is there a cost estimate to restore it?

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