A Bit More About the Burns Bridge

(It may not seem like it, but I actually think about this bridge a lot; here are some random thoughts/quotes from various anonymous people on it.)

As a reminder, there’s an environmental impact meeting about the bridge tonight.  Here is an excellent pamphlet about the meeting in particular and the project in general.

Who is Kenneth Burns?
Someone asked me why it’s called the Kenneth F. Burns Bridge; here’s a little bit about the gentleman.

Through Arch Style
I think the push would be (though I could be wrong) to have the new bridge be a through arch.  The problem is that there’s a lot of variety in through arch styles, and that the example of this style (#3) MassDOT showed in the replacement types page is, according someone I’ll call Anonymous #1, more “South Beach and not New England.” 

Two examples of different kinds of through arches in locations with a similar span to Lake Quinsig are the Lower Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, MN and the Frederick Douglass/Susan B. Anthony Bridge in Rochester, NY. 

Obviously, the color of that proposed through arch bridge (My Cousin Vinny mint-green metallic) needs to be changed.

As another anonymous Worcesterite noted, “I swear I’m not old fashioned, but I still like the graceful lines of Bridge #2.  I think #3, even in the form of the [Lower Avenue Bridge or “Freddie-Sue Bridge”], would be too large a presence on what is essentially a flat (rather than rounded) bridge span.  Unless they’re increasing the curvature of the bridge, it might start to seem a little overloaded.  The width is going to be an important consideration for any design – it has the potential to plunge a big portion of the lake below into darkness.”

Kate Toomey had a similar feeling a while back.  I think they both make good points about the appropriateness of arches for this site.
I asked Anonymous #1 his/her thoughts about the span of the through arch, noting that it seemed like the through arch style was going to provide more clearance underneath.  S/he said, “the profiles are the same for all options.  BUT the major difference is that the Through Arch has a much shallower superstructure (under the bridge) than the other options.  This adds almost 2 to 4 feet of additional clearance throughout the span of the arch.  All other options add clearance only at the peak and not through out the entire span.  Also there will be 3 lanes heading in each direction with a 4th lane heading into Worcester as a right turn lane for UMASS traffic.”
Through Arch – During Construction
It’s worth noting that the Through Arch would also require a temporary bridge, but that two lanes in both directions and a sidewalk would be open at all times.
Through Arch – Pedestrian Access
I asked Anonymous #1 about pedestrian access to the island.  “The idea behind the Through Arch is to make it more than just an object to facilitate transportation but a destination point for the community.  Having this access would be a great way to watch a regatta or fish, etc…  One major advantage the Through Arch provides is the under clearance around the shore lines.  Worcester has raised the idea about a boardwalk through the park and around the Lake.  The Through Arch is the only option that allows for this and access to the island would play a role in this.”
Through Arch – Additional Pedestrian Concerns
I asked Anonymous#1 the following: It seems like one of the concerns for the residents were pedestrian improvements for the bridge.  I find that the existing bridge can get puddles in rainy weather, and that pedestrians invariably get splashed.  Are there going to be ways to drain the car lanes better, or a way to protect pedestrians from being splashed?  I also noticed that in the visual design there was a bump-out for looking out on the lake; how many on either side are being planned?
S/he responded: “This was a major concern of the area residents and was incorporated in the profile of all options.  The drainage of the new bridge will be much better and will not collect or puddle on the bridge. The sidewalks will be widened and easier for pedestrian use.  As for the bump outs – these are additions that can be made after the type selection.  The community input will play a large role in this.”
Please let me know if you’d like to know more about the schedule for the project — I do know a bit about it, but I hate to bore people with my public works obsessions.

3 thoughts on “A Bit More About the Burns Bridge

  1. Jason F says:

    I drive across this bridge every day to head to and from work, I’m interested. Were bike lanes ever mentioned? I see a decent amount of people biking across this bridge on the sidewalks.

  2. Joe says:

    I went to the site walk and meetings yesterday, I’m going to send Nicole my notes.

    The design team is recommending the 5 span deck arch for reasons of:
    -clearance (max
    -Construction time (The Through Arch is a 5+ year project, while all other options are 2-3 years)
    -visual impact from the water (this is the most open structure of all the alternatives except for the through arch)

    Basically, the through arch might be nice, but it’s too expensive and would take too long to construct.

    The new bridges will not have dedicated bike lanes, but the designs all have significantly wider shoulders to allow for both bicycles and improved emergency vehicle passage. (While we were on the site walk, we saw an ambulance come through westbound and get stuck in the traffic at the light.

    See pages 20 and 21 of the PDF for cross sections of the bridge here: http://www.massdotprojectkenburnsbridge.info/IMAGES_JPEG/3-11-2010_Public_Meeting_Presentation.pdf


  3. brittany lewis says:

    hello im spc lewis US ARMY aka spc graves (maden name) i was surprised to see such intrest in this bridge, kenneth f burns was my great grandfather his late daughter carol b graves is my mother wendy a graves mother. our family is greatful for the progress put towards keeping his memory intact. thank you

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