The Anderson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Charles River to connect Harvard’s campuses in Cambridge and Allston, is slated for a $20 million refurbishment to be completed in approximately two years.
The bridge, which links JFK Street in Cambridge to North Harvard Street in Allston, is one of the many bridges that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has deemed “structurally deficient” in recent years.
The revamp—which will be funded and facilitated by the Department of Transportation’s $3 billion Accelerated Bridge Program—will decrease the number of car lanes from four to three, create a five-foot-wide bike lane, and expand the bridge’s sidewalks.
The bridge’s new design was planned with students in mind, according to Sara R. Lavoie, a DOT press secretary.
“Biking is a really attractive option, especially to students trying to watch their pocketbooks,” said Lavoie.
The University said that the construction will benefit Harvard, as well as the surrounding community.
“During the public process for the project, MassDOT proposed new dedicated bike lanes and better pedestrian ways that should improve conditions for the communities on both sides of the Charles River including the Harvard community,” University spokesperson Lauren M. Marshall wrote in an email.
But Harvard Allston Task Force member Harry E. Mattison said that the state-funded project marks another way in which Harvard has failed to realize its plans for the development of its property in Allston, adding to the complaints that Allston residents have voiced for years about a host of projects.
“The bridge certainly needs to be rebuilt, but the state redoing it also represents a missed opportunity,” Mattison added. “Harvard had a vision for the bridge, but they never followed through.”
“It’s another example of Harvard having all of these really grandiose ideas, but then they just sort of silently say, ‘We aren’t really doing that anymore.’”
In 2004, Harvard administrators released a series of reports that proposed ideas for Allston construction. A Harvard-funded revamp of the Anderson Memorial Bridge was among the ideas floated.
One proposal suggested that the University lay down tracks for a state-of-the-art tram that would shuttle Harvardians across the bridge.
However, the University never officially incorporated such an idea into its Institutional Master Plan, a document which sketches out potential long-term building projects.
In the last few decades, Harvard’s relationship with the working- and middle-class neighborhood across the Charles has been marked by a series of dramatic flare-ups and tense exchanges. This tension worsened in 2009 when Harvard announced that it was halting construction on its $1 billion Allston Science Complex—an endeavour which the University had said would bring thousands of jobs to the community.
Though the University will not undertake the Anderson Memorial Bridge refurbishment, Harvard laid out ideas for its future development in Allston last year. Plans include resuming construction on the science center and partnering with third-party developers to build graduate student housing in Allston.
—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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