Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Bridging the fiscal gap

In 2005, ground broke on an ambitious, if not overdue, renovation project in Kenmore Square. After a slow start to construction, officials expected work to be done by April 2007. A two-year project slowly became a three-year project, and a three-year project dragged on to become a four-year saga. Such is the trend in Boston, where financial issues have a habit of stymying construction, stopping traffic and forcing pedestrians to walk through a gauntlet of bricks and cones. That’s why we are skeptical of the proposed three-year renovations on the Boston University Bridge.
The BU Bridge ‘-‘- in addition to being a landmark for students, Bostonians and Cambridge residents ‘-‘- is a vital link between Boston and Cambridge. It serves as a thruway for thousands of commuters per day, and is the most viable way for BU students living in the Hyatt on Memorial Drive to get to and from campus.
For the safety of commuters and pedestrians and for the strength of both cities’ economies, it’s important to keep the bridge maintained. Many Massachusetts bridges are in dire need of renovation, and in some cases, reconstruction. The BU Bridge has been said to be one of the more urgent cases. An April 27, 2008 Boston Globe article details the many structural deficiencies in the 81-year-old bridge, which include cracks, holes and bent railings.
But an old bridge in need of repair is much safer than a half-completed bridge left under perpetual construction. If the state is to renovate the bridge, it must secure the necessary funding beforehand. A three-year project is daunting enough. Seeing the BU Bridge turn into a four, five or six-year grind would have terrible repercussions on the Boston and Cambridge economies, as well as endangering thousands of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. With a current ‘three-month’ light construction project on the bridge to repair the western sidewalk now nearing seven months of work, the state should take as many precautions as possible to ensure a timely and efficient effort before construction begins.

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