The Longfellow Bridge’s Woes Are No Longer Funny

1212681530It was funny at first, the litany of problems with the Longfellow Bridge. We cracked jokes about snorkels and parachutes when we learned the Red Line’s rail ties on the bridge needed to be replaced. We predicted that a kayak purchase would be in our future when we learned the span’s sidewalks weren’t safe enough to hold the Fourth of July crowds.

It got much less humorous this weekend. The DCR announced that the inside traffic lanes on the Longfellow Bridge would be closed to all traffic until repairs are completed this fall.

The Federal Highway Administration also prohibited all large trucks from the bridge, since the signs warning them to stay out of the left lanes had been removed.

In the past, we got the same old “the bridge is pretty safe” disclaimers from officials. This time, DCR commissioner Richard Sullivan admits his agency botched the lane closures.

“It certainly shows that we did not have the ability to ensure safety because we were not able to ensure the posting limits that were up there and the limitations that were on the bridge.

“We have to go to the next step so I can ensure people who use the Longfellow that it’s safe for their purposes. The only way to truly do that is to restrict traffic from that lane.”

Here’s the thing—the news that the bridge can’t handle the load of cars, pedestrians, and trains does not lead us to believe that the bridge is “safe for [our] purposes.” We probably won’t feel better about the bridge’s integrity until the agency announces the Red Line won’t proceed across the bridge at a crawl anymore and when all four lanes are open to traffic again. Until then, no more jokes.