Highlights $125M Chelsea St. Bridge project as first of major investments to create jobs, speed economic recovery
CHELSEA/EAST BOSTON – Monday, March 16, 2009 – With the 73-year-old structurally-deficient Chelsea Street Bridge serving as a backdrop, Governor Deval Patrick today unveiled his Massachusetts Recovery Plan, highlighting how integrating state, federal and private investments will put people back to work today on critical projects, speed the state’s recovery and ultimately secure our common economic future.
In keeping with his Administration’s nearly $10 billion commitment to fixing the state's crumbling transportation network, Governor Patrick announced his team has started construction on the $125 million project to replace the vertical drawbridge over the Chelsea Creek which connects Boston and Chelsea. Federal, state and municipal officials hailed the Chelsea Street Bridge project as a major victory for the local community and regional economy, noting the project will create or maintain 150 jobs, enhance community access and improve public safety by expanding tanker clearance.
“The unprecedented economic challenges confronting our Commonwealth have made the mission of government clear – we must secure our common economic future,” said Governor Patrick. “Our Massachusetts Recovery Plan will integrate state, federal and private resources so we can deliver immediate relief and long-term solutions. The Chelsea Street Bridge reconstruction is just one way to create and sustain the jobs and the opportunities that will move our people and our economy forward once again.”
The Massachusetts Recovery Plan will combine state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.
The Plan comes as Massachusetts is poised to receive between $6-$9 billion over two years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for transportation, education, health care, housing, public safety and other critical programs. In the last two weeks, the federal government granted the state the authority to spend $437.9 million on transportation projects through federal highway funds, with $153.2 million of that funding committed to “shovel-ready” projects. Two days ago, the Patrick Administration put the first eight recovery projects out to bid, dedicating an estimated total of approximately $30 million for infrastructure improvements in every region of the state.
Federal recovery funds will enhance the Patrick Administration’s ongoing efforts to address a legacy of neglect that has created a $15-$19 billion funding gap for the state’s transportation network. In the last two years, the Administration, working with the Legislature, has approved nearly $10 billion for road, bridge and transit projects through Transportation Bond bills and an historic eight-year Accelerated Bridge Repair Program. The Chelsea Street Bridge, one of the state’s largest reconstruction projects, stands as a prime example of the effectiveness of these capital initiatives, and previews the work that will take place across Massachusetts in 2009.
“The Chelsea Street drawbridge is essential for the energy security and economic viability of the entire area, and this new bridge will ensure the smooth and safe flow of traffic, protect our environment and create jobs,” said Senator Kennedy. “I’m proud to have worked with Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino and our Congressional delegation to secure federal and state road and bridge funding for this important project. With President Obama's bold action, long overdue investments like this one can now become a reality elsewhere.”
“We passed this recovery package to help those struggling all across Massachusetts by providing safety nets and creating jobs, jobs and even more jobs. Hundreds of critical infrastructure and transportation, education, construction and public safety projects throughout our state will get a much needed economic boost to get our workers and their families back on the road to recovery. It’s good for the economy, good for struggling workers, good for our businesses and good for our environment. I am grateful to Senator Kennedy, my colleagues in Congress, Governor Patrick , Lieutenant Governor Murray and the elected officials all across Massachusetts for their hard work in ensuring that federal recovery funds will get into the hands of those who need it most as quickly as possible,” said Senator Kerry.
"I am proud to have gotten more than $31 million in earmarks over the years for the Chelsea Street Bridge, a span that is clearly in need of modernization. Today's groundbreaking brings us closer to the day when ships can more safely navigate the Chelsea Creek, reducing the likelihood of a spill while delivering home heating oil and fuel," said Congressman Michael Capuano.
“This project is an example of the efforts needed across the Commonwealth to jumpstart our economy,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “Targeted investments in infrastructure, education and training will put people back to work and give Massachusetts a solid basis for economic recovery and future growth.”
“This new project will improve boat and car transportation in the region and provide drivers in Revere with a safe alternative route into Boston,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “I’m especially proud to see a project that will create jobs coming online.”
"The new Chelsea Street Bridge is a winning project for everyone involved," said Mayor Thomas Menino. "It's good for both the community and the economy. It will improve the infrastructure on a major roadway and ease traffic concerns for the residents of East Boston, while strengthening access and safety for the numerous ships that use this waterway."
The Chelsea Street Bridge project involves the replacement of a truss-type structure that spans 450 feet and will provide 175 feet of vertical clearance when raised. The new bridge and approach roadway match the footprint of the existing bridge and will provide for four lanes of traffic (two in each direction) and two pedestrian sidewalks. Approach roadways will be reconstructed to meet existing local streets and a complete warning signal and gate system is included in the project.
The project will address longstanding issues caused by the narrow passageway used by oil tankers that resulted in accidents. Since 1972, there have been 133 incidents in which ships, tugs or barges have struck the bridge. The new bridge has an environmental as well as a safety component, as the reduced potential for collisions will diminish the threat of oil spills. In June 2000, a tanker collision spilled 50,000 gallons of fuel oil, closing the waterway and delaying aviation fuel deliveries for three days.
The warning gate and bridge traffic signal operations will be coordinated with the Central Avenue/Marginal Street/Eastern Avenue intersection in Chelsea to control traffic flow during bridge openings.
The state's contractor on the project is J.F. White Contracting Co. of Framingham. The projected completion date is April 2012. For additional information, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery and www.mass.gov/youmovemassachusetts.