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With a Key Bridge Down, Will Traffic Be Up?

Columnist Deb Robi writes about the upsides and downsides of the Rockland Street Bridge closure.

Thank you, MassDOT for giving us as you work to replace the Rockland Street Bridge.

Thanks for pushing back the date of closure, too. I need time to ponder how my driving around town will be impacted. I often cross the bridge half a dozen times in a day. That means, I'm either not planning trips around town very well, I have too many children with too many activities, or I keep forgetting an errand in either Wellesley or Linden Squares!

Thanks too, for the very attractive footbridge that I know will come in handy for commuters who require daily train station access, bikers, who are doing us all a favor by staying out of their cars, and for students walking to and from school. Thanks for giving residents two extra weeks to figure out how severely traffic is likely to be impacted throughout the construction project. We know what is coming. MassDOT will spend the next eight to nine months replacing the aging structure, all part of its "Accelerated Bridge Program." The state is spending more than $1.6 million dollars to replace the bridge over the Conrail and commuter rail tracks, and will add much needed sidewalks to the finished product.

MassDOT, while your "detour" map looks simple, I have not for the life of me figured out how drivers will not clog up the other access to Linden Street from Washington Street. (The Kingsbury Street bridge?)

Remember the ? Years and years went by as we watched progress slow to a crawl on the Route 16 bridge project. It all began in 2003, and after financial issues, construction company bankruptcy, cable company snafus, and a host of other issues, the bridge was finally finished and named for the late State Sen. David Locke in 2010. Yes, it took seven years to complete. Neighbors and nearby businesses were bereft. It was a difficult "road" for many. Pardon the pun.

With all of that in mind, dear MassDOT, we Wellesley drivers hope that removal and replacement of our aging Rockland Street bridge will go more smoothly. It's a plan that's been in the works for years, and MassDOT says it will be finished in September. It's hard to argue against the plan that will add six feet of sidewalk to a bridge that has always been a challenge to cross, whether on foot or behind the wheel. I'm not sure I will ever feel nostalgic for the bridge.

And, I pledge to plan my trips to and from the area carefully and with common sense. If I do that, maybe I'll only have to travel that way only once, twice or three times in a day. It will be important to keep time of day in mind. There is no question traffic will clog in mornings and evenings and each day at the start times for the middle and high schools.

So, thank-you, MassDOT. We all hope that you can stay on schedule and turn in a great finished product in September. Good luck!

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