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Bridge closure forces evacuation of hundreds

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh is closing the Long Island Bridge, the gateway to myriad social services for hundreds of disadvantaged individuals, his office announced Wednesday.

The bridge to Long Island, located in Boston Harbor, is likely to be closed for an extended period as a precaution following concerns about the span’s structural stability, according to a statement from Walsh’s office.

As a result of the closure, between 220 and 250 homeless individuals staying on Long Island with the help of the city of Boston were transported to the South End Fitness Center and Carter Auditorium on Northampton Street, Walsh spokeswoman Kate Norton said in the statement.


Staff members and other guests at the Long Island facilities were also evacuated with assistance from the MBTA.

Under Boston’s Continuity of Operations Plan, the South End Fitness Center has been temporarily converted to a homeless shelter. Boston’s Economic Development & Industrial Corporation facility on Channel Street will provide an additional 300 beds for displaced individuals, Norton said.

The Boston Public Health Commission, Office of Emergency Management, and Boston police will staff the temporary shelters, Norton said.

City officials have also coordinated with other homeless shelters in Greater Boston willing to provide excess beds to those displaced by the bridge closure, Norton said.

Walsh’s office said the mayor made the decision to close the bridge under advice from various city departments and agencies and at the recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

An estimated 250 to 300 homeless people utilize services provided by the Boston Public Health Commission and other nonprofit organizations on Long Island on a daily basis, in addition to the 440 individuals staying in shelters on the island, Norton said.

Boston officials will meet with MassDOT Thursday to determine long-term plans for repairing the bridge and further arrangements for displaced homeless individuals, Norton added.


Rachel Riley can be reached at