Business

What should replace the Northern Avenue bridge?

The Northern Avenue Bridge over Fort Point Channel has been closed to pedestrians since 2014, and the Coast Guard warned last fall that it could collapse.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File

The Northern Avenue Bridge over Fort Point Channel has been closed to pedestrians since 2014, and the Coast Guard warned last fall that it could collapse.

As Boston officials prepare to take down the Northern Ave. Bridge, they want ideas for what might someday replace it.

The city and the Boston Society of Architects are launching a competition for ideas to replace the century-old span, which it hopes to demolish for safety reasons later this year. The bridge over Fort Point Channel has been closed to pedestrians since 2014, and the Coast Guard warned last fall that it could collapse. Earlier this year the Walsh administration committed at least $100 million to replacing it.

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Now City Hall is holding a juried competition that architects and non-designers alike can enter. The best ideas will be selected in May, with prize money for the winners

“The Northern Ave. Bridge represents a special piece of history for our city and for our people,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I welcome everyone to participate and help us generate ideas for this important challenge for the future of the bridge and Boston.”

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The competition will help the city craft a more traditional request for proposals for design and construction of a new bridge, to be issued this summer or fall. Any actual construction is likely at least two years away, said city engineer Para Jayasinghe. But by casting for ideas as widely as possible, he and other city officials are hoping to spark a broad conversation about what the future span might look like.

“We want to open this up to everyone for ideas,” he said. “It is not going to be just for architects and engineers.”

Meanwhile, the city is still seeking state and federal permits to take down the existing bridge. A spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers said his agency is still reviewing the city’s demolition permit. State agencies will also have to approve permits. Jayasinghe said he expects to have those permits in hand by May or June.

Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bytimlogan.
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