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Car-Free Mystic River Bridge Will Begin Construction In 2024

"We are on schedule for the project to go out to bid at the end of the calendar year," a state official confirmed for StreetsblogMASS.

An architect's rendering shows two bridges crossing a river. The illustration of the new bridge, on the right, shows a bridge with large arches swooping over the water. The illustration is superimposed on a photograph that shows an existing, plainer railroad bridge on the right.

A rendering of a proposed Mystic River bike and pedestrian bridge, which could connect the Northern Strand multi-use path in the City of Everett to the Assembly Orange Line Station in Somerville. Rendering by AECOM, courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

A new car-free bridge to connect Everett and Somerville over the Mystic River is on schedule to begin construction in 2024, according to state officials.

The bridge would provide a direct link between the Encore Casino and the Northern Strand Trail on the northern banks of the Mystic River in Everett to the Assembly Square neighborhood and its Orange Line station in Somerville, on the southern bank.

Locator map of the proposed Mystic River Bridge. Somerville and the Assembly Orange Line station are on the left side of the map, and Everett and the Encore Casino are in the upper right corner. The Mystic River is a blue band through the middle of the map.

Two years ago, former Governor Charlie Baker committed funding to finish designing and permitting the bridge.

However, there had been no public updates on the bridge since then. The federal government declined to fund the project from its competitive RAISE grant program in 2022.

During last week's MassTrails grant announcements in Billerica, StreetsblogMASS buttonholed Kurt Gaertner, Asst. Secretary for Environmental Policy at the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, to ask for an update.

Gaertner promised to get us an answer, and followed up by email last Friday.

"I have confirmed that DCR (the Department of Conservation and Recreation) and MassDOT continue to make good progress on the design and permitting of the Mystic River Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge," wrote Gaertner. "We are on schedule for the project to go out to bid at the end of the calendar year."

Bridge proponents – particularly the Encore Casino – had also hoped for cooperation from the MBTA to build a new Assembly station entrance on the east side of the Orange Line tracks to provide a direct walking connection from the T to the new bridge.

The current Assembly station’s entrances are all located to the west of the MBTA Orange Line tracks, facing the Assembly Row development.

The T's latest Capital Investment Plan, its 5-year budget for upcoming construction projects, does not include any projects for the Assembly station.

That means that even though the Somerville end of the new bridge will land right next to the Assembly station, MBTA riders will only be able to get there by walking half a mile out of their way in order to cross under the Orange Line at Artisan Way (see map above).

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