Recent coverage of the Northern Avenue Bridge’s need for repair or replacement acknowledges the conflicting interests and complex interplay of costs and benefits associated with alternative visions for its future. Often lost in the discussion of its rusting structure is the important place it occupies in Boston’s social and urban fabric.
The bridge is a pivotal link in the Harborwalk, connecting downtown to the rapidly evolving South Boston waterfront. It is also the northern terminus of Fort Point Channel, whose potential was recognized in recent plans to turn Dorchester Avenue into Olympic Boulevard.
Given its prominence, the bridge’s noble structure could be restored, like the Longfellow’s, as a reminder of the city’s industrial past. Or it could be replaced with a daring new span like the Zakim’s, energizing this critical crossing. Past and future could also be interwoven, to create our own version of Manhattan’s High Line.
There are two essential requirements for planning and implementing the best direction forward. The first is an inclusive—and conclusive—public process that allows alternatives to be proposed and evaluated. The second is a commitment to superb design so that bold forms and engaging spaces will bring this corner of the city to life. Together they will give Boston the Northern Avenue Bridge it deserves. To that end, please join this lively discussion.
Dante Ramos, op-ed columnist, The Boston Globe
About the Designing Boston Series
This series provides a forum to discuss current trends and concerns in architecture and urban planning that may shape Boston’s future. Topics include designing for transportation, walkability, and climate change, and meeting housing demands of this growing city. Go to series page.
This program is supported by the BSA Foundation.
Image: Old Northern Ave Bridge, Boston. Credit: Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, creative commons license, modified.