Burns Bridge Update: Environmental Waivers (?) and Design Elements

There was an article about the meeting I liveblogged in yesterday’s Telegram.

You may recall that there was previously an article about how the state had requested some sort of environmental waiver, as well as an editorial decrying this waiver request.

So one might think that a reporter would ask a question about these environmental impact waivers.

Sadly, this blogger had to ask about the waivers, and was told that the Telegram article had no basis in fact.

And this is what John Monahan reported:  “[Project Manager Michael O’Dowd] said the request is not called a waiver, but was a request for a categorical exclusion from further environmental reviews.”

So, not only was there no apology, amplification, or clarification on the original Monahan article, but there was also no explanation for what the heck a “categorical exclusion from further environmental reviews” means, and how that differs from a waiver.

I don’t expect that someone will get everything right all the time (goodness knows I’m not), but I do expect that if someone is wrong that they will clarify their previous reporting.

The meeting presentation for Wednesday’s meeting is available on the web.  I suggest downloading the (rather large) .pdf rather than opening it in a browser.

In the liveblog, I mentioned that all of the designs for the ends of the bridge were ugly.

This is not an opinion.  This is fact.

The designs begin on page 37 of the large .pdf.

Option 1:

Option 1, night view from the other end of the bridge:

In short, Option 1 looks as if it came out of the set of Kismet; I’m half-expecting Howard Keel to pop out of a second-floor balcony and start singing “Stranger in Paradise.”

Option 2:

Option 2 is supposed to look like sails, but it screams “You are entering StarFleet Command in San Francisco circa 2355” to me.  Beam me up, Scotty!

Option 3, which is Option 2 with crossed oars:

Remember, these options were instigated because this bridge was too boring and not distinctive enough. I have no idea why anyone thinks prefab concrete pillars are going to make this bridge a “signature bridge”, or why we think some generic-looking prefabbed monstrosities are going to scream “Worcester”, “Shrewsbury”, or “Lake Quinsigamond.”

The problem is that we continue to approach making a bridge unique by using prefab ideas.

I would much prefer that we construct the bridge without them (that is, plain and perfectly serviceable) and have a competition — or two, one for the Worcester side and one for the Shrewsbury side — for the design elements on the end of the bridge.

Why aren’t we using the artists in our own community to create designs that uniquely reflect our community?

These pillars are absolutely unacceptable. If you feel as I do, you should use the comment form to let MassDOT know.

[I should note that I do like those glowy blue triangular obelisk things near the bumpouts. They are kind of cute.]