Coming soon: A 10-day red light on Morton Street

By 
Lauren Dezenski, Reporter Staff
Jul. 9, 2014

Work on a replacement bridge for Morton Street is going on this week. The roadway will close for ten days next month to fix the new span in place. Photo by Bill Forry

Bridge replacement work to shut section Aug 8-17

For ten days next month – from Aug. 8 to Aug. 17 – the well-traveled section of Morton Street above the railroad tracks and near the Norfolk Street intersection will be closed to traffic as the state lays in place a new Morton Street bridge. While rerouting plans for buses are known, transportation officials will present the detour details for all residents, businesses, and travelers at a meeting tonight (July 10) at 6 o’clock at the Economy Plumbing site at 875 Morton St.

“These questions are of continued concern for the public and have been discussed at the several public meetings and hearings over the last few years,” said MassDOT spokesperson Amanda Richard. “The plan has been modified several times in response to public input. At the meeting Thursday night, construction staff and the contractor will present the final details of traffic control for the detour.”

The construction of the bridge deck itself will begin before the road closure at the former site of the Morton Street police station. Then, over the weekend of Aug. 9-10, the bridge will be rolled into place over the railroad tracks. The $7.6 million project is a part of the Accelerated Bridge Program to repair or replace crumbling bridges. Project funds are also being used to stage extra fire and EMS apparatus and crews on the far side of the bridge while construction is ongoing.

As to the buses: Route 21 buses will use Norfolk Street and Talbot Avenue in both directions to travel to and from Ashmont while serving the west side of the bridge site. Eastbound buses bound for Ashmont on Morton Street would take a left on Norfolk and right on Talbot. Westbound buses bound for Forest Hills via Talbot Avenue will take a left on Norfolk followed by a right on Morton. All departure times remain the same as existing schedules.

The Route 26 loop will only run up to the east side of the bridge site, using Dorchester Avenue, Talbot Avenue, Washington Street, Gallivan Boulevard, and Morton Street, then turning around in the parking lot of the commuter rail station from the entrance opposite Evans Street. The route in detail from Ashmont: up Talbot Avenue, left on Washington Street, right on Gallivan Boulevard to Morton Street, and a left into the commuter rail station lot. The route back to Ashmont: East on Morton to Gallivan, and a left on Dorchester Avenue to the station.

This detour uses only main streets, serves almost all existing stops, and provides reasonably short diversions for riders, says MassDOT. Many Norfolk Street passengers will likely shift onto Route 21 buses, and pedestrians will be able to cross the railroad tracks at all times, giving them more options to get to the bus stops. All departure times from Ashmont would remain the same as on the existing schedule.

Livio Poles, who works at Economy Plumbing and has attended the public meetings over the last five years, said that although the public process has been tumultuous, he’s “optimistic” about this plan.

“What we’re expecting is that all these issues that we’ve brought up time and time again will be answered in a positive manner.”

Those issues include posting a public billboard around the construction site to keep community members informed about the process, ensuring that buses are not going to be rerouted too far from their original stops, and a need for good communication from the contractor to the community.

“They’re getting the job done but I don’t think they’re paying much attention to the neighborhood,” said Poles. “Pretty soon it’ll be all done and hopefully we won’t have to worry about it too much.”