The Codcast: No bridges make good neighbors

Mayor Thomas Koch sits down with CommonWealth Magazine to discuss rebuilding the Long Island Bridge

When disputes arise between communities bordering each other, the public proclamations are usually fairly muted and respectful.

Then there’s the battle between Quincy and Boston over rebuilding the Long Island Bridge to connect to a planned addiction treatment and recovery campus.

“Boston answers to a different set of rules,” said a fired-up Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch in a conversation with The Codcast. “They get all sorts of special legislation. Boston does what it wants. I don’t think they give two hoots about their neighbors south of Boston. They’re going to do what they’re going to do and that’s Boston.”

The bridge has been a point of contention between the two cities since it was built in 1951. The problem is while Long Island is in Boston, the only land access is through Quincy’s Squantum neighborhood where residents say heavy traffic, especially the kind of construction vehicles that would be required, causes a public safety threat to the area.

Koch is not out there by himself. The opposition to Boston’s plan to build a bridge is near-uniform among elected officials as well as residents. Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, a Squantum resident who represented the city in the House and Senate for more than 30 years, said in an oped in CommonWealth over the weekend, that he suspects Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has designs on developing the harbor island beyond merely a recovery treatment center.

While some Boston officials and advocates dismiss Quincy’s opposition as a case of NIMBYism over concerns that drug addicts would be riding through the streets, Koch angrily dismissed that, pointing out his support for siting sober houses and treatment facilities throughout the City of Presidents even over residents’ opposition.

“We’ve been doing our part for this issue,” said Koch. “I’m not going to take a back seat to anyone on this issue.”

Koch said while his main point of opposition is the bridge and the resulting traffic, he also bristles at the unilateral decisions by Walsh and Boston officials to plow forward with their own vision for a “regional” facility without substantive discussions with those neighbors who are most impacted. Koch said he thought the bridge was a “dead issue” since it was closed and dismantled four years ago. But then he got a call from Walsh in January on the eve of the Boston mayor’s State of the City address saying he would announce his intention to rebuild it at a cost of $92 million.

“I was really taken aback by the phone call from Marty,” said Koch, who added he supported Walsh when he ran for mayor.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Koch said he’s annoyed Walsh and his aides dismissed any discussion or exploration of ferry service to the island, an option he said worked for years for the hospital on the ground and a children’s summer camp that still operates there. Koch said he would welcome any discussions with Walsh but if city officials think they can put up a new bridge with no pushback, they best think again.

“The reality is we don’t want a bridge,” said Koch. “We’ll be looking to inject ourselves into the process at every step of the way.”