Authorities engage on Mystic River Bridge from Somerville to Everett



“Somehow it’s going to get paid, and it’s going to be done.”

Render of the proposed Mystic River bicycle and pedestrian bridge connecting the MBTA assembly station. MassDOT

They will do it.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration announced Friday afternoon that it is committed to building a “long-awaited” cycle and pedestrian bridge over the Mystic River from Somerville’s Assembly Square to the Encore Casino in Everett.

State officials say they expect to complete the licensing and design process next summer, with construction of the nearly 800-foot bridge set to begin in 2024.

The project is expected to cost nearly $ 49 million in total, including $ 37 million for the bridge itself and an additional $ 12 million to expand the north powerhouse at Assembly MBTA station. The expansion is necessary so that pedestrians can get to the riverside of the Orange Line lanes where the Somerville end of the bridge connects.

Baker said on Friday the state was seeking federal funds. In July, they asked for a grant of $ 25 million. But that “whatever we don’t get from them we’re going to fund,” Baker said. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission committed $ 650,000 to complete the design and licensing phase of the project.

“If we get federal money that would be great, but somehow it will get paid and it will be done,” he said at a press conference at Encore casino. Boston Harbor Friday.

Rendering of the proposed Mystic River bicycle and pedestrian bridge from the Assembly Square side.

It is important to note that the bridge would allow access to more than the casino.

It would also provide a direct link to the Orange Line for residents of Everett, which has not had an MBTA station since 1975.

“I am totally overwhelmed to be here and to finally have access to a T station that we rightly deserve,” Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said on Friday.

DeMaria noted that Everett plans to further develop its traditionally industrial riverside with lab spaces, housing, hotels and restaurants. The area is also often touted as a potential site for a football stadium for the New England Revolution.

In a statement, Baker noted that the project was “long overdue.”

It was first launched in 2009 – long before Encore Casino – by a Department of Conservation and Recreation study that found it to be the best option for a Mystic River crossing to reconnect communities divided by highways, high speed roads and water.

Officially proposed as a result of the study, the bridge will measure approximately 12 feet wide, 785 feet long and up to 35 feet above the water, and will include lighting, signage and benches throughout its length, officials said on Friday.

State officials estimate that approximately 2,300 pedestrians and more than 350 cyclists would use the bridge daily. It would also connect the 11.5-mile Northern Strand bike path on the North Rim to Lynn with the existing Mystic River and Malden River bike paths.

Of the 111,000 people who live within half a mile of the Northern Strand, officials say 96,000 – or 86% – are in neighborhoods that meet at least one environmental justice test, which means that ‘they are disproportionately low income, people of color, or lack fluency in the English language.

“Moving forward on the Mystic River Bike and Pedestrian Bridge shows a re-commitment to fostering economic, environmental and mobility equity in the region,” said Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.

Of course, this will also make it a bit easier for some residents to access the casino.

Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of State for Energy and Environmental Affairs, noted that it took her another 25 minutes to get to the casino on Friday for the press conference after missing an outing.

“I can tell you that navigating the roads here is definitely a great option,” Theoharides said of the bridge, “compared to taking a vehicle in this area.”

Encore officials even suggested before the COVID-19 pandemic that they would help fund the project. DeMaria said in 2019 that Encore was prepared to pay up to $ 25 million. However, casino spokeswoman Rosie Abrams said on Friday that while Encore “has already paid for a large chunk of the design work” their current understanding is that “construction funding will come from other sources.”

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