Walsh will go it alone on Long Island Bridge

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.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation on Tuesday would only say the agency will work with Boston. “MassDOT looks forward to having discussions with the city of Boston on any proposals the city may be considering,” Jacquelyn Goddard wrote in an email.

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.

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 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.

But Boston officials say no special permitting would be needed because they plan to essentially replace the bridge that was knocked down. They plan to rebuild on top of the stanchions that remained after the original roadway was removed. The new bridge would be the same height, length, and width, with just one lane in each direction.

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.”

  • QuincyQuarry.com

    Hypocrisy thy name is Koch.

    Case in point: in 2015 a 65 bed detox facility was jammed into a mostly residential part of the Wollaston Center neighborhood in Quincy against overwhelming neighborhood opposition.

    See: http://www.wickedlocal.com/article/20140924/News/140928511

    There is also no doubt that Mayor Tom Koch and his brother-in-law State Senator John Keenan (D, Quincy) were in the thick of seeing this facility happen.

    Additionally, no small part of this reuse of a former residential health care facility benefited various favored local and political interests, ranging from the locally-connected property owner of what was a long all but vacant building to the employer of Congressman Stephen Lynch’s wife who is running the detox facility and which the congressman had been subject to past criticism over his helping out his wife’s employer receiving federal funding.

    See: http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/11/10/lynchs_wife_tied_to_agencies_he_won_grants_for/

    Conversely, Squantum residents are playing NIMBY and Mayor Koch is treading lightly with the residents of this upscale Quincy neighborhood over the City of Boston’s plans to reopen its facilities on property that it owns and which per applicable law it has every right to do.

    So what if Long Island is two miles away from Squantum and there is a long causeway with an often staffed security gate, another island and a proposed new bridge in between.

    That and how the City of Boston’s plans are sure to result in far less than traffic than when much of its facilities on Long Island were used as overnight homeless housing.

    In short, it should be fun to see how the City of Boston might opt to rework the traffic light timing cycles as well as be slow to fix potholes, plow snow and such on Boston side of the Neponset Bridge – be sure to note that this bridge is one of the few major roadways in and out of Quincy that provides ready access to Boston and points north if Mayor Koch opts to back a neighborhood of whiny NIMBY’s.

    Oh, and surely such actions would be but coincidences occurring during a time when Quincy is facing upwards of five or so years of transportation chaos as its Red Line stations are undergoing reconstruction, with one is closing for at least 20 months, as well as that air rights private developments are slated to be built at the sites of two of the busiest MBTA stations on the Red Line outside of those in Boston.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    It’s amazing all the things Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has revealed…after his re-election. For example, the IRS audit with almost $1 million in penalties wasn’t disclosed to the public until after the mayoral election even though the audit was ongoing for months and the $944,000 check was handed to an IRS agent on the day voters were casting their ballots! Then Mayor Walsh railed against the schools’ penalties even though they were only $32,389 or 3% of the $944,000 penalty. Somehow, Walsh found $600,000 to hire professional auditors to investigate the schools further even though many of the City’s schools don’t have libraries and other basic amenities AND the schools just got inundated with 156 Puerto Rican evacuees while receiving no significant money from Marty and only a $5,000 grant ($32.05 per student) from Governor Charlie Baker. And what about the big raises Mayor Walsh and his top administrators are in line for – just made known – again a few weeks after the election? Don’t forget, Mayor Walsh was all about changing dozens and dozens of public school start times to save a few bucks where some schools with a 9:15 am start time were slated for a 7:15 am start time and vice versa. A two hours and fifteen minute difference! And yet charter schools which cost the City of Boston much more money per student to transport weren’t scheduled for a change in start times at all. In fact, the Mayor’s Neighborhood House Charter School has prime starting times: 8:00 am; 8:15 am and 8:30 am. So what’s good enough for public school students (7:15 am start times) is not good enough for charter school students? Walsh shouldn’t be getting away with any of that…but so far he is. And now he’s finding tens of millions of dollars for a bridge. There’s got to be more to that bridge. Someone must be in line to make a fortune somehow.

    • QuincyQuarry.com

      A few points.

      First off, you have gone off topic. WAY off topic.

      Then again, this is not the first time you have done so on at least Commonwealth comments threads.

      Next, you are mistakenly assuming that governmental funding is fungible. FYI: often it is not.

      Government revenue streams are often restricted as regards their usage. For example, in this instance the municipal parking meter income that the City of Boston plans to use to help pay for a new bridge can be used on transportation-related projects – but not on education.

      And finally, Mayor Walsh has made a determination that redeveloping ready access to Long Island makes sense.

      Considering the cost of Boston real estate, that there are no parcels available in Boston as large as Long Island – much less any as isolated and bucolic – as well as how Long Island can be readily reopened for a detox facility without any use permitting impediments as it is already so permitted, one can readily fathom how he came to this decision.

      • Mhmjjj2012

        With the bridge’s cost estimates up to $100 million and Mayor Walsh only coming up with $58 million ($28 million/capital budget and $30 million/parking meter fund) that means another almost $42 million needs to be found. So I’m not mistakenly assuming anything.
        Given the Mayor is diligently working to undermine the public schools, I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes up with a way to take money from their budget. So where was I off topic? Writing about the big raises Marty Walsh and his top administrators will be getting? Questioning who Mayor Walsh will bless with untold millions in development opportunities on an “isolated and bucolic” publicly owned island? Walsh can find plenty of money for the stuff he cares about but not so much for the public schools in his City.

        • QuincyQuarry.com

          First off, the expected most likely cost to build a new bridge is $80 million, not $100 million, and thus only $20 million is likely needed to be sourced to build a new Long Island bridge.

          FYI: in the grand scheme of things, scaring up 20 large is chump change when it comes to funding City of Boston vehicular transportation projects.

          Next, while I am a huge supporter of public education, the City of Boston operates way too many small enrollment schools as well as it isn’t exactly a tightly-run shop, Address these two verities and suddenly more resources will be freed up from what is already relatively robust spending per student as compared to many other school districts on a duly handicapped basis.

          Finally, and again, a new bridge to Long Island and Boston Public Schools are funded via largely different as well as for the most part mutually exclusive revenue streams.

          As such, please stop talking up apples when the subject is oranges.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            My first point was Mayor Marty Walsh kept a lot under wraps before his re-election including the IRS audit, its findings and $944,000 penalty. Even if Walsh “only” has to find $20 million for the Long Island bridge, he’s gone out of his way to take shots at the City’s public schools…most recently their transportation costs without acknowledging students in charter schools, parochial schools and private schools cost much more to transport. There may be efficiencies that can be wrung out of the BPS central office but I’m not sure “small enrollment” schools would offer much in savings. The fact is until Mayor Walsh announces the source of the $20 million or $42 million we won’t know if we’re talking dedicated revenues or not. I don’t trust his intentions. That’s my bottom line.

          • QuincyQuarry.com

            Again, you are going far off topic and instead moving onto your favorite unrelated topic.

            That and how you clearly do not appear to understand finance or operations.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            OK, I get it. I’ve “gone off topic. WAY off topic;” I talk up “apples when the subject is oranges;” and I “clearly do not appear to understand finance or operations.” Thanks.