Construction Alert: Longfellow Bridge, Boston

We don't usually issue alerts for local road construction, but this one will affect thousands of bicyclists daily for a few days/weeks.

Bicyclists riding across the bridge from Cambridge to Boston are affected by construction near the Boston approach to Charles Circle. The bike lane and one travel lane are temporarily blocked to allow construction of a long-needed sidewalk to allow safe pedestrian and wheelchair access where none exists today. The bike lane will be back as soon as construction is completed (a matter of a couple of weeks if the just-completed work on the other side of the bridge is any indication.) But for now, bicyclists need to merge with car traffic as they approach the Boston end. Please be patient and don't try to squeeze through to the intersection - there really isn't enough room. Signage is in place to remind drivers that bicycles may use the full lane.

While this is inconvenient, it is necessary to get the sidewalk built, and it is an improvement over the way the sidewalk construction on the other side of the bridge was handled. MassDOT made sure that signage was in place this time right from the start to put motorists on notice that bicyclists would be using the full lane.

On the other side of the bridge, the construction reduced the lanes getting on the bridge to one, with no signage to warn drivers and bikers that everyone had to merge into a single lane briefly. This caused confusion and at least a few close calls (including one I experienced personally). We contacted MassDOT about the lack of warning signs, and were told that MassDOT had specified signs but the contractor failed to install them. At this point, the new sidewalk on the other side is done (see below), and the lane restriction is gone.

This is part of the first phase of the much more extensive project that will happen later to completely reconstruct the bridge. After seeing the challenges to safe bike access during construction that even this small part of the project caused, we will be working closely with MassDOT to ensure that they have a complete and workable plan to maintain safe bike access when the real construction starts.

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