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New North Washington Street Bridge Will Partially Open In December

The sidewalk on the new North Washington Street Bridge, looking south toward downtown Boston. Photo courtesy of MassDOT.

A construction project that has dragged on longer the entire existence of Streetsblog Massachusetts is reaching a major milestone next month, when traffic between the North End and Charlestown will start using part of the new North Washington Street Bridge.

For four years now, all bridge traffic – including foot traffic along Boston's famous Freedom Trail – has been confined to a narrow 3-lane "temporary" bridge running just upstream from the construction site, while workers demolished the old bridge and started building the new one.

The temporary bridge was originally supposed to be in place for about two years, but, because workers discovered cracks in the new bridge's steel beams, this phase of construction ended up lasting twice as long as expected.

Now, the eastern half of the new bridge is finally ready to open, which will allow workers to demolish the temporary bridge and start finishing the western portion of the new bridge.

A diagram of construction work on the new North Washington Street Bridge. A green area in the upper right indicates Paul Revere Park, and a blue area in the middle indicates the Charles River. Through the center of the image run four colored horizontal bands: at the top, a bent red band indicates the location of the temporary bridge that was in use for the past 4 years. Labels pointing to the red band indicate that "Lovejoy Walkway closed to public access until fall 2024" and "Temporary bridge closed to public during planned demolition". Under the red band is a shorter yellow band labelled "Construction of west portion of new bridge." At the bottom is a dark grey band with a purple stripe along its bottom edge. The purple stripe is labelled "pedestrian access" and the wider grey band is marked with three lanes for motor vehicle traffic.
Courtesy of MassDOT.

"Beginning the morning of Saturday, December 9, 2023, all vehicle and pedestrian traffic will move to the east portion of the new bridge. The shift will be completed by the evening of Saturday December 9," according to a MassDOT traffic advisory.

The new bridge will eventually sport wide sidewalks, at least one dedicated bus lane, and curb-protected bike lanes to connect the North End to Charlestown. But we'll still have to wait a few more months before those amenities open.

MassDOT's construction advisory requests that people on bikes "dismount and walk their bikes along the pedestrian path, as there is no bike lane during this stage of construction."

After traffic shifts onto the new bridge, workers will begin the next phase of work, which entails demolishing the temporary bridge and completing the western side of the new bridge.

MassDOT expects the new bridge to be fully open to traffic by the end of 2024.

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