Walsh will go it alone on Long Island Bridge
City will pay entire cost and face objections from Quincy
BOSTON MAYOR MARTY WALSH’S inaugural pledge to rebuild the Long Island Bridge faces some major hurdles, including stiff opposition from Quincy and putting together the financing for the estimated $80 million project.
Walsh used his second inauguration Monday to announce his plan to rebuild the bridge, which was taken down in 2014 after the state condemned it. The bridge connected the Squantum section of Quincy with Long Island, which had been the longtime site of Boston’s homeless programs as well as 225 addiction treatment and detox beds. Under Walsh’s plan, only addiction services would return to the island in a campus-style setting.
According to Walsh administration officials, the cost to build a new bridge would range between $40 million and $100 million, depending on design, with most estimates in the $80 million range. City officials say they have identified about $58 million in funding — $28 million from the capital budget and another $30 million from the parking meter fund. That would leave about $20 million or more that would have to be found to complete construction.
Chris Osgood, Walsh’s chief of the streets, acknowledged the city will probably have to foot the bill for the bridge. “It’s too soon to say [capital spending] is the only source of funding, but we are looking internally how this fits into the city’s long-term capital plan,” he said.
With the public barred from any new bridge and the island, there’s little in the way of state and federal taxpayer dollars available for the project, although the state did provide $750,000 for the design of a new span.
Another hurdle city officials will have to overcome is opposition from Quincy officials, including Mayor Thomas Koch, who said Walsh called him at home Sunday night to give him a heads-up that he’d be making the announcement in his New Year’s Day inauguration.
“I certainly appreciated his heads up,” Koch said. “I was a little caught off-guard. Actually, a lot caught off-guard.”
While he acknowledged he hasn’t been given much in the way of specifics from Walsh, he said he has heard nothing that would change his opposition to reconstructing the bridge.
“We’ll try to be good neighbors, try to work with Mayor Walsh, but I have a real problem with rebuilding that bridge,” Koch said. “I’d be leaning toward continuing to fight it. I appreciate the courtesy [of the call], but I’ll be looking at it from my city’s point of view and my constituents’ point of view, not Boston’s.”
While he supports the goal of expanding addiction services, Koch said Boston officials should look at water transportation as an alternative to rebuilding the bridge and disrupting one of his city’s neighborhoods. Boston officials, however, dismissed the idea of ferry service, saying supplies, emergency vehicles, and staff shifts would all require the access that can only be served by a bridge.Koch said he would expect Boston officials to hold public hearings with residents of the Squantum area, where the road to the bridge is located. Quincy officials also indicated Boston will have to go through their neighbor’s Conservation Commission for permitting.
Osgood said Quincy officials and residents would be kept abreast of what’s happening but the details will have to be worked out. “We’ll certainly work with Quincy,” said Osgood. “It makes sense to engage them on this process.”