City of Boston engineers and Walsh Construction reviewed plans for the demolition of the Long Island Bridge at a public hearing at the Squantum School on Thursday night. The long-deteriorating bridge, which carried traffic from Moon Island to Long Island, closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic on October 8, 2014 by order of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh due to safety concerns.
Demolition of the bridge is underway, with the center span removed at the end of February and work to demolish the remaining spans scheduled to proceed on a weekly basis through March. The work is weather contingent and is scheduled to conclude by the end of April 2015.
City of Boston engineer Para Jayasinghe indicated that the presentation slides outlining the demolition work will be made available online at:
A representative of the Quincy Police Department shared that QPD will post updates during the demolition on the QPD Facebook page.
The Boston Public Works Department, with Walsh Construction as its contractor, is executing the demolition of the bridge which was built in 1951 with a life expectancy of 50 years. At 3,450 feet and 16 spans in length, the bridge also carried utilities to both Long Island and Spectacle Island. The demolition contract will include taking down the bridge and relocating the utilities to the seabed. The current timeline calls for the demolition of the bridge to conclude by April 30, 2015, with the installation of utilities to be completed by June 15.
The bridge demolition will be conducted with the use of controlled explosives that will surgically cut each span of the bridge, dropping it into the water below. The materials will be retrieved from the water and carried away by barge. The process will be repeated until all spans are demolished. The span closest to Moon Island is over land and will be removed by truck through Quincy. Precautions are being taken to deter fish and wildlife from entering the area prior to the demolition.
Following the removal of the steel bridge structure, the piers that currently hold up the bridge will remain in place, with navigational lighting being added to guide boaters in the area.
An uncertain future for access to Long Island
News reports indicate that Mayor Walsh is exploring the cost of building a new bridge to Long Island. In the meeting Thursday night, City of Quincy Representative Bruce Ayers reviewed legislation he is proposing in opposition to rebuilding the bridge with the recommendation to implement a ferry service to the island. Ayers outlines the fiscal impact of both options in a Patriot Ledger opinion piece.
News round-up of bridge closure and future considerations
- Bridge closure forces evacuation of hundreds; Rachel Riley, Boston Globe, 10/9/2014
- Long Island span closes: A bridge to somewhere?; Boston Globe Editorial, 10/10/2014
- Mayor Walsh hopes to reopen Long Island Bridge in three years; Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, 11/1/2014
- Abrupt closing of Long Island Bridge was slow to arrive;
[details bridge condition and decision points prior to closure];
Meghan E. Irons and Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, 12/14/2014
- Opinion: Long Island Bridge closure offers chance for cost savings
Rep. Bruce J. Ayers for The Patriot Ledger, 1/27/2015
- Boston Begins Long Island Bridge Demolition; Shannon McMahon, Boston.com, 1/5/2015
- Portion of ailing Long Island Bridge is removed; Martin Finucane, Boston Globe, 2/25/2015
History of Long Island and Moon Island
Source: City of Boston website, Harbor Islands section
Long Island and Moon Island are part of the Boston Harbor Islands, and as such are owned and operated by the City of Boston.
Long Island (closed October 2014)
Total land area: 214 acres, 1.75 miles long.
Long Island is the largest and longest Boston Harbor Island. The Long Island Bridge connected Long to Moon Island; a two-lane causeway connects Moon Island to Squantum.
- Prehistoric times: habitation sites may exist on Long Island, according to archaeologists.
- In 1634, tenant farming on Long Island began with 40 families.
- 1794: The first lighthouse on Long Island was constructed around 1794 on Long Island Head.
- 1819: Long Island Light, the second lighthouse, was built as a replacement and still stands today, although it has been moved twice to make room for military structures.
- 1863: Fort Wightman, later renamed Fort Strong, was built, near which are buried the remains of 79 Civil War soldiers. During World War I, 500 soldiers were stationed at Fort Strong. The Fort, long abandoned, stands in disrepair. In the 1950s, a Nike missile base was established. After the missiles were removed, the base stored books from the Boston Public Library.
- For much of the 19th century, Long Island was a resort.
- By 1882, the City of Boston acquired the largest hotel and in 1891 converted it into a poor house for 650 people.
- In 1921, the City converted the almshouse into a home and hospital for unwed mothers.
- In 1928 an addition to house homeless men was built.
- 1941: the City enlarged this facility to provide treatment for alcoholics. The 60-acre Long Island Chronic Care Hospital later closed.
- 1951: the steel-truss Long Island bridge is built as a two-lane causeway — nearly two-thirds of a mile long —and serves as the sole connection between the mainland and Long Island. Bridges constructed at the time were typically built to last about 50 years.
- Until October 2014, the City of Boston Public Health Commission housed the Long Island Shelter and a number of human-service agencies helping an average daily population of 1000. The Shelter operated a garden and the Friends of Boston Harbor Islands operated an island re-vegetation garden.
- On October 8, 2014, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh closed access to Long Island due to safety issues on the deteriorating Long Island bridge, thereby shutting down all programs and activities on the Island.
- Read more about Long Island history on Wikipedia
Moon Island (closed to the public)
Total land area: 44 acres. Moon Head (100-foot-high drumlin)
- Colonial times: Known as “Manning’s Moone”, the grass-covered Moon Island was used for grazing and farming.
- 1880’s: Massive granite settling tanks and tunnels were built and covered more than half of Moon Island, making Moon Island the world’s most modern sewage facility of that time.
- In 1959, on the island’s northern end, the Boston Fire Department built a training facility.
- In 1960, on Moon’s southern end, the Boston Police Department set up a firing range.
A history of deterioration