Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project

The Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project has been broken down into two phases: Early Action and Final Rehabilitation. Early Action Phase 1 construction work began in June 2010 and will be completed in January of 2012. Final design work is scheduled to begin in March of 2011. Construction will be advertised in Summer of 2012 and be completed by October of 2016.

Longfellow Bridge
Longfellow Bridge


The Longfellow (originally, the Cambridge) Bridge is one of the most architecturally distinguished bridges in Massachusetts. Located on the site of the 1793 West Boston Bridge, this graceful steel and granite structure was completed in 1908, and renamed to honor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1927. The bridge joins Cambridge Street in Boston with Main Street in Cambridge and carries the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Red Line and two-way vehicular traffic across the Charles River. The bridge presently carries 28,000 motor vehicles, 90,000 transit users, and significant numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists each day.

Longfellow Bridge

The 1908 bridge was extended in 1956 and rehabilitated in 1959. The bridge today consists of eleven original open-spandrel steel arch spans plus two later steel girder approach spans at the Cambridge end. The bridge has an overall length of 2,135 feet, and a deck width of 105 feet, which includes a 27-foot fenced median occupied by the Red Line. The existing cross-section provides an upstream 6-foot sidewalk and a 33-foot wide roadway while the downstream side consists of a 10-foot sidewalk and 29-foot wide roadway. The bridge's substructure is built of granite block masonry and consists of ten hollow piers and two hollow abutments. The two central piers carry the signature pairs of neoclassically inspired dressed granite towers that have given the bridge its popular nickname - the Salt and Pepper Bridge.

Proposed Work

MassDOT has selected a consultant team led by Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. to provide preliminary and final designs for the rehabilitation of the Longfellow Bridge. In this design, the bridge's distinctive architectural features will be preserved or restored, while the deteriorated structural elements of the bridge are carefully rehabilitated. All new elements of the work will be sensitively designed to complement the bridge's historic character and its prominent position within the historic Charles River basin.

The primary objective of the proposed rehabilitation is to address the bridge's current structural deficiencies, upgrade its structural capacity, and bring the bridge up to modern code. In particular, the structural steel elements supporting the bridge deck have deteriorated and require upgrading, and the abutments will have to be modified slightly to allow the sidewalk approaches to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines. At the same time, the bridge's ornate pedestrian railings will be restored or replicated, its masonry elements will be cleaned and conserved, and an appropriate new bridge lighting system will be designed. Areas on the riverbanks disturbed by the project will be carefully landscaped to tie the bridge into its historic setting.

Environmental Review

Longfellow Bridge

MassDOT is committed to the performance of a full environmental review process for this project in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This will include a comprehensive review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, with the Federal Highway Administration as the lead federal agency. As part of the project review process, an extensive and comprehensive public participation plan is being implemented. This outreach program will keep the public updated on the project's status, seek public input, support the regulatory process and offer coordinated briefings for elected and municipal officials.

MassDOT has formed a Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Task Force. This Task Force will meet from June 2010 to October 2010 to ensure stakeholders are given an equal opportunity to comment on the final approach and roadway cross-section of the bridge with particular focus on serving transit, roadway, bicycle and pedestrian needs effectively and safely. Task Force Meetings are open to the public. Upon completion of the Task Force, MassDOT will amend the Environmental Assessment and file with the Federal Highway Administration in November 2010.

July 27, 2010 - Task Force Meeting

July 15, 2010 - Task Force Meeting

June 29, 2010 - Task Force Meeting

Design and Construction

The design and construction of the bridge will be managed and overseen by MassDOT. Final design work is scheduled to begin in March of 2011. Construction will be advertised in the summer of 2012 and be completed by October of 2016. The project contractor will be required to follow detailed specifications regarding construction management issues such as staging and traffic management. Red Line service will be maintained during construction.

Project documents

If you have any questions, comments, or would like additional information on the project please contact:

Stephanie Boundy, Public Outreach Coordinator
MassDOT Accelerated Bridge Program
617-973-8049 or Stephanie.Boundy@state.ma.us