Transportation

One of the Bridges Closed for the GLX Will Reopen Early, but There’s a Catch

Don't expect a reprieve from the Washington Street Bridge closure any time soon.


MBTA Green Line / Photo by Olga Khvan

As Green Line Extension crews work around the clock to construct new viaducts, shift miles of track, and upgrade roadways, Cambridge and Somerville drivers are feeling the effects. And now, the MBTA has announced that a temporary respite scheduled for this winter won’t actually be happening anymore.

Three major Somerville bridges—on Broadway, Washington St., and Medford St.—have been closed since the spring to facilitate GLX construction, causing pedestrian, bus route, and traffic detours. Initially, the Washington St. bridge and underpass, located in East Somerville near McGrath Highway, were scheduled to temporarily reopen during the winter and close for a second round of construction from April through the summer. Now, however, the bridge will remain closed through the winter, allowing them to permanently reopen in spring, a whopping five months ahead of schedule.

During the closure, all traffic will be detoured via Pearl Street and McGrath Highway.

“While we acknowledge extending the closure is inconvenient, the schedule change allows us to accomplish more work within a shorter timeframe,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement. “As we continue our efforts to build a better, safer, more reliable MBTA, making these types of adjustments allows us to deliver improvements even faster than originally planned.”

On the whole, the GLX seems to be going—dare we say—well? While some elements of the project are facing schedule pressure, signs of progress, like new drainage systems and retaining walls, abound around the sites of the future stations. In an exclusive interview with NBC10, project manager John Dalton said about 20 percent of the project is finished, and total completion is still on track for 2021.

Upon completion, the GLX will extend the Green Line north of Lechmere and into Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford, increasing ridership to over 50,000 passenger trips per day. The project involves the construction of six new stations along the project’s two branches into Medford and Union Square. Lechmere station is also being reconstructed and relocated.

To keep up with the latest on the project, sign up for email updates from MassDOT here, or keep an eye on Mass.gov’s weekly construction outlook page.