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Commuters, rejoice: Longfellow Bridge will reopen in May

This is what the Longfellow Bridge project looked like in the summer of 2016. It’s expected to reopen in May.David L Ryan/Globe Staff/file

Pedestrians, MBTA riders, cyclists, and drivers, rejoice: The Longfellow Bridge, which spans the Charles River and carries commuters of all kinds between Cambridge and Boston, will finally reopen in May.

Governor Charlie Baker made the announcement about the bridge completely reopening during a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday morning.

“Getting that thing open again is going to be a huge win for everybody here in [Massachusetts],” he said.

The news was met with loud applause.

Renovation work began in 2013 on the half-mile span, which is named after the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

But the massive construction project saw significant delays, largely due to complications associated with preserving the bridge’s historic structure.


Officials had planned to finish the work in just three years. In July 2015, however, that timeline was stretched to five years.

Baker reportedly told attendees at the annual breakfast Thursday, which was held at the Westin Copley Place, that despite the setbacks, the project will be completed “on budget.”

Officials have promised the final price tag for the project will not go over $303 million.

He joked that one of the first things he said to Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack when he took office was, “Longfellow Bridge, WTF?”

Pollack told him that the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, and that if it was going to be repaired, it would have to be done in the same way it was originally constructed, Baker said.

“That’s hard to do, and it takes a while,” Baker said at the breakfast.

When it’s fully open, the Longfellow Bridge carries an estimated 28,000 vehicles and roughly 90,000 Red Line commuters across the river each day, according to state transportation officials.

The span is perhaps best known for its “salt-and-pepper shaker” towers that stand guard over the Charles River. Each 58-foot tower is made up of 515 granite stones, which vary in size and can weigh as much as 3 to 4 tons.


Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Nicole Dungca and Jon Chesto, of the Globe staff, contributed to this report.