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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, March 3, 2024

Somerville with Townie Tim: Broadway Bridge

Welcome back! I hope your adventures over spring break have returned you to Tufts rested and ready to finish the semester. While you were out, Somerville was hard at work brewing a traffic nightmare in the form of the Broadway Bridge closure. I know most students do not drive, or even venture too far past Ball Square, but as your townie-in-residence, I feel obligated to make you aware of this local debacle.

If you are not familiar with the situation, shame on you, because the signs have been all over Somerville since February. But if you have been living under a rock, or more probably, in Tisch Library, let me explain: in order to build the Ball Square stop for the Green Line Extension project, the section of Broadway that crosses over the train tracks will be demolished and replaced. This project is slated to take a full year. I am so excited.

As a townie, about half my conversational time is spent on traffic conjecture. This includes discussing the best ways to get around Somerville, what streets do not require parking permits, how Google is trash when it comes to navigating Union Square and of course, the latest construction projects. Normally, a lane closure or repaving project is enough to stir the townie heart into all kinds of consternation. I remember when they repaved the first section of Powder House Boulevard. There was so much panic about how it was impossible to get to Alewife Brook Parkway, and the street was not even fully closed! Now, we have a situation where Somerville is basically going to be split in two, with the busiest road in this entire city severed at its halfway point. This is basically the Super Bowl of local construction projects.

By the time this article gets released, it will be about a week since the bridge closed. I will be surprised if there is not at least one car that tries to drive through the barriers and over the bridge.  If you look at the rerouting options it only gets worse. The nightmare goes from one of those where you are falling and don’t know why, to one where you are investigating your own murder — it feels so much more personal. They expect us to either go all the way to Highland Avenue, which will add a minimum of 30 extra minutes, or into Medford via Harvard Ave. If you do not know about Harvard Avenue, just look up some pictures of the moon's landscape and add a few more craters. I swear, it’s like someone comes by at night and just jackhammers holes into that road. Getting around the bridge closure will be like choosing a port-a-john during the Boston Marathon: All options are bad options.

For the next year, we get to watch as the entire traffic pattern of Somerville shifts. Maybe you already knew this, but your boy Townie Tim lives in Ball Square, and has a front-row seat to all this action. It is going to be a heck of a year.