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Winter street bridge opens after 7 years

Published: January 20, 2012
Section: News


The city of Waltham celebrated the completion of the Winter Street Bridge Dec. 30, re-opening it to traffic after nearly seven years of setbacks and delays.

The bridge, located at Exit 27B on Route 128, is meant to provide commuters with easier access to the highway while alleviating traffic congestion in the Boston suburbs, and connects the area west of Route 128 with the main part of Waltham.

Improvements to the bridge include an expansion from four to seven traffic lanes, a wider intersection at Wyman Street and fresh concrete and antique lampposts. The extra lanes, officials hope, will make it easier to navigate the ramps on and off the highway, as Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) spokesperson Sara Lavoie told The Boston Globe.

The project also looks to benefit students’ families and other visitors to the Brandeis campus. According to the Brandeis website, many of the recommended local hotels are located on Winter Street, a short drive away from campus. The re-opened bridge will provide a less complicated path to South Street.

Many local politicians attended the re-opening, highlighting its importance to the community. “The end result is a step in the right direction for our community, and will ultimately help keep our property taxes down,” Rep. Thomas Stanley said at the ribbon cutting, according to The Boston Globe. Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, State Representatives John Lawn and Tom Stanley, and MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey all participated in the ceremony as well. “I’m happy that the bridge is finished and it looks great. Thank you to all,” McCarthy said at the ceremony.

The project, which cost taxpayers $23 million during 7 years, was only supposed to cost $19 million during four years. Ironically, the harsh national economic times disrupted the progress of a project initially designed to help boost the local economy.

“It took a while to get the money in the budget, and then it took a while to get all the permits for the utilities required,” state Senator Susan Fargo told The Waltham News Tribune. The original contractor suffered financial trouble in 2006, and the need to restructure utility wires under the bridge added expenses, Lavoie said.

“Governor Deval Patrick has made bridge and roadway infrastructure improvements a priority in his administration,” Davey said. “Residents, commuters, local business and business travelers are already benefiting from the newly reconstructed Winter Street Bridge. Projects like this one help to fuel a healthy economy.”

“It’s all about economic development. It’s not just transportation for transportation’s sake,” Davey added. He and Waltham officials hope that an easier commute will attract more customers to Waltham’s businesses, and put Waltham in line with other areas like Cambridge in economic growth.