‘It Is a Bummer': Stalled Work on Charlestown Bridge Frustrates Bostonians

MassDOT says it's looking for a solution as most work on the North Washington Street Bridge between Boston's North End and Charlestown has been on pause since October

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With traffic frustrations mounting, The Massachusetts Department of Transportation says it is still looking for a solution to the problems that have indefinitely delayed most work on the North Washington Street Bridge between Boston's North End and Charlestown.

"I have been trying to figure out what is taking so long," Matt Koch said Thursday.

Work to replace the 100-year-old bridge started in 2018. Crews built a temporary bridge alongside the old bridge, as the old bridge was torn down, and a new one constructed.

Everything was going according to plan until September, when MassDOT says its engineers discovered a problem.

"Engineers identified a defect in some of the welds/connections of a portion of the installed steel tub girders September 29, 2021," MassDOT said in a statement. "These defects are located on the portion of the bridge that is under construction and is closed to public access."

MassDOT says it is now trying to find the cause and work with the bridge's contractor to find a solution.

Work on the impacted portion of the bridge, according to MassDOT, has been on pause since late October.

"It is a bummer," Bridget Foley said as she rode her bike home from work. "A lot of people use this bridge to commute to work, and it definitely makes me feel a little bit more nervous when I am on a bike."

With work suspended, traffic troubles continue to mount. In the North End, Phillip Frattaroli watches the daily back-ups from his restaurant in the shadow of the construction project.

"It is frustrating," he said. "Traffic is backed up, especially here on North Washington Street, so we would like to see a resolution to that."

MassDOT officials say the temporary bridge is capable of handling the increased load, and it doesn't have an estimate yet of what this delay will cost.

"It looks like it is going to be beautiful, but how long?" Charlestown resident Jimmy Toscano asked. "They give you these dates where you expect to see progress, then come to find out, it is going nowhere."

MassDOT says it continues to search for a solution.

"Once we identify the cause and actions to remedy this issue, the project team plans to host two virtual Public Information Meetings," a MassDOT spokesperson said. "In these meetings we will inform the public about the cause and solution to the defects as well as any potential impact to the project's timeline."

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