Governor Deval Patrick today celebrated the completion of the North Bank pedestrian bridge, connecting Paul Revere Park in Charlestown to Cambridge's North Point Park. Funded through the Obama Administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the $26 million North Bank Bridge and North Point Park project will provide thousands of pedestrians with a safe, accessible and quick route between Cambridge and Charlestown.
"I am proud to celebrate the completion of the North Point Bridge which brings together our communities and encourages residents and visitors to make use of outdoor spaces," said Governor Patrick. "As one of the first shovel ready projects awarded funding by the Obama Administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this bridge is an investment for generations to come."
In 1993, former Turnpike Authority agreed to allocate funds to the construction of the connecting bridges after the Central Artery/Tunnel Project was completed. After several years of no progress, the North Bank Bridge project received funding in 2009 from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and construction began in 2010. Construction was completed this past spring, at a cost of about $26 million to cover paths, lighting and utilities.
"This job-creating investment builds stronger communities and proves that the Recovery Act is still paying dividends in Massachusetts," said Senator John Kerry.
"Today's opening of the North Bank Bridge represents an important milestone in enhancing our urban recreational spaces. It connects the communities of Cambridge and Charlestown, giving visitors easier and quicker access to beautiful park spaces, playgrounds, bike paths and pedestrian walkways," said Congressman Michael Capuano.
The pedestrian bridge is open to biking and rollerblading, in addition to walking or running, giving the public greater access to the parks. Prior to the bridge's construction, traveling on foot from North Point Park to Paul Revere Park would take roughly 25 minutes. With the bridge, it is estimated the time will be cut to less than five minutes.
"Investments in improving our urban recreational spaces improves our quality life, giving children play spaces, bikers safe paths for riding and commuters a safe and green way to travel," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan.
The 690-foot bridge features a sinusoidal design, curving under the Zakim Bridge and over the MBTA railway. The steelwork is composed of closed sections and the joints are completely sealed, limiting interior corrosion by preventing the cycling of air and intrusion of water. To minimize maintenance of the exterior protection system, the steelwork is metalized rather than painted. Energy-efficient LED light strips are installed in the bridge's railings, which will be lit not only for aesthetics but also to support public safety.
"The opening of this bridge brings an era to an end and opens up a whole new area of opportunity for residents and visitors to the area," said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey. "MassDOT is proud of the work that has been done to get this project to completion."
North Point Park, which was completed two years ago, is part of the New Charles River Basin, the "lost half mile" between the old Charles River Dam and the Charlestown Bridge. Its eight square acres extend from the Charles River commuter rail bridges to the Msgr. O'Brien Highway.
North Point includes a broad pedestrian path along the water's edge and a tree-shaded bikeway along the land side of the park. Unique to North Point is a new water feature, creating two islands and a shallow waterway for small boats. A large playground area has been constructed on the inland side of the water feature. The playground's fence rails include images of water creatures and the playground features several stainless steel pieces: a drum table and "Big Eyes, Big Ears," a sound and light periscope. North Point Park is the third park to be completed as part of the Big Dig mitigation efforts, which also included the restoration and expansion of Paul Revere Park in Charlestown and the construction of Nashua Street Park in Cambridge and Boston.
"Connecting these spaces opens up new opportunities for the public to enjoy the outdoors, whether it's on foot or bicycle," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Investments like this not only improve the look of the city, but they make our communities safer and more enjoyable for everyone."
"Congratulations to DCR on completing this terrific link in our Charles River parklands," said Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis. "This project is another example of our state's commitment to green transportation and increasing opportunities to explore the city by walking and biking."
"I really appreciate the Patrick administration's leadership on this project," said Sen. William Brownsberger. "This bridge solves a connection problem for pedestrians. If we want to encourage people to get out of their cars and walk or bike, we need to keep focusing on exactly this kind of problem."
"This bridge will allow for residents as well as visitors to Cambridge and Charlestown to enjoy greater access and connectivity to two beautiful open spaces in their communities," said Sen. Sal DiDomenico.
"The North Point Park is a largely undiscovered gem -- a beautiful park on the water in the easternmost part of Cambridge," said Rep. Timothy J. Toomey. "I'm very excited about the ways that the North Bank Bridge will unlock parkland and recreational opportunities to more local residents."
"The North Bank Bridge unlocks beautiful riverfront parks for easy use by local residents and visitors alike. With this connection, pedestrians and cyclists will have miles of uninterrupted paths, encouraging exercise and facilitating easier commutes on foot or by bike," said Rep. Martha M. Walz, whose district includes parts of Boston and Cambridge along the Charles River.
"We at DCR are committed to providing and maintaining quality recreational spaces to the public," said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr. "With the help of our partners, we're thrilled to unveil the park's new paths, bikeways and playgrounds we hope families, friends, residents and visitors will enjoy for years to come."
Since taking office in 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration has made a historic $230 million investment in land conservation, leading to the permanent protection of more than 95,000 acres and the creation or renovation of 150 urban parks.