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.”