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NEWTON

Newton takes step forward in Christina Street Rail Bridge project

Newton officials are using state grant money to conduct a review of the closed Christina Street bridge with an eye to creating a pedestrian and bicycle crossing between the city and Needham, according to Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

The feasibility study, funded by a $56,700 MassTrails grant, will lay the foundation for the construction of a fully accessible, shared-use path connection over the Charles River when funding is available, Fuller said in a statement.

The city also is asking residents to complete a survey about the bridge. That questionnaire seeks information, including about past use of the crossing, and how a potentially upgraded bridge would be used in the future.

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Three design scenarios are being studied, including reusing or renovating the bridge; replacing the structure; or building a new bridge nearby, according to a city presentation.

“The new bridge will help link together the Newton side of Needham Street with the Needham Crossing area east of I-95, with possible future connections to the Upper Falls Greenway,” Fuller said in the statement.

The city applied for state grant money two years ago to renovate the structure, and use it for pedestrian and bicycle access between Newton and the Blue Heron Trail on state conservation land in Needham, Fuller said.

The bridge, erected in 1959, connects Newton and Needham, and crosses the Charles River east of Needham Street. The bridge is close to existing commercial and residential areas in both communities.

Fuller said trains stopped crossing the bridge in 2010, and it has since fallen into disrepair. Pedestrian access to the bridge was closed two years ago.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.