Officials Skeptical on Fore River Bridge Relationship With DOT
The Weymouth Town Council voted on Monday to support Mayor Sue Kay in discussions with the state over the bridge construction, slated to start in November.
Construction will begin soon on the replacement Fore River Bridge, prompting Weymouth officials to request that the state work with them to fashion an agreement on noise levels, parking arrangements, debris disposal and other issues.
Concerned with how the Department of Transportation has dealt with the surrounding communities in the past, both the Town Council and Mayor Susan Kay have put in writing a request for a Memorandum of Understanding between themselves, the DOT and state lawmakers.
"The stronger we are, the better we are," Councilor-at-Large Brian McDonald said. "The DOT has been unresponsive from the beginning."
Councilors voted unanimously on Monday night to ask for the memorandum. Furthermore, District One Councilor Francis Burke said he will draft a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick asking for action by the transportation department.
The DOT's board of directors awarded a joint $244.6 million contract to build the bridge this past August to J.F. White Contracting Company of Framingham and Skanska Koch of New York, according to the Weymouth News.
Despite pressure from residents in Weymouth, Quincy and Braintree and their representatives to construct a bascule-style bridge that opens in the middle, the state agency chose a vertical lift bridge similar to the temporary structure in place now.
Opponents have called the approved project unnecessarily large, complex and expensive, and said the public hearing process leading up to the selection was only a formality.
"It was a dog and pony show," McDonald said. "It's appalling – the lack of response we've seen on this from the DOT from the get-go."
Still, he added, the project will bring jobs and be an improvement over the current, long-standing temporary bridge.
Last week, Burke met with Kay, representatives from the DOT and J.F. White and several lawmakers. The impression he got, Burke said, was that the DOT will continue to communicate poorly with local officials and residents and that the agency and J.F. White will point back and forth at each other when construction issues arise.
"I don't expect anything," Burke said. "I could see the handwriting on the wall that the finger-pointing will begin as soon as construction begins."
Construction is scheduled to begin in November, Burke said. The main portion of construction should last through 2015, with another year after that for smaller adjustments and cleanup. Currently, the DOT plans to run only one open lane in each direction toward the end of construction, Burke said, potentially creating massive traffic backups throughout Weymouth and Quincy.
That is one of a number of issues that should be worked out through the memorandum, Burke said. Others include hours of operation, noise limitations, dust control, employee parking and the designation of a project liaison.