Quincy mayor throws up potential roadblock to Boston’s Long Island bridge plans
Now that Mayor Martin J. Walsh has moved forward with his controversial plans to rebuild the Long Island bridge, officials in Quincy are looking to have their own say in the matter — in what could become a political standoff between the two neighboring cities.
Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch has proposed a city ordinance that would ban commercial vehicles such as construction trucks from roads that lead to Long Island, where Boston is looking to reestablish addiction-rehabilitation programs. Koch’s proposal has been sponsored by City Councilor William Harris and will be introduced to the council next week.
The move is an effort by Koch to use the city’s permitting authority to influence plans for the bridge.
Chris Walker, a spokesman for Koch, said the proposal is based on the mayor’s desire to preserve public safety in the neighborhood, by reducing traffic on a narrow roadway. He said the mayor would support the measure regardless of Boston’s plans to rebuild the Long Island bridge, pointing out that Quincy officials were unaware that Walsh was officially moving forward with plans to rebuild the bridge until he included funding for the plan in a budget proposal last week.
To get to Long Island, which is owned by Boston, drivers would have to use Quincy roads.
“This goes a little beyond that, it addresses the nature of [the intersection at issue] and provides some safety mechanism for that neighborhood,” Walker said. “The mayor and city councilor are proposing this as an effort to protect public safety in that neighborhood . . . it’s just not equipped really to handle any additional heavy traffic through that area.”
Nicole Caravella, a spokeswoman for Walsh, said in a statement that, “Mayor Walsh has been clear that his priority is to build the bridge to Long Island in order to create a comprehensive, long-term addiction recovery campus that spans the continuum of care to help those in Boston and the entire region.”
In the past, to get to Long Island, one of the largest in the Harbor Islands, drivers had to go through the Squantum neighborhood of Quincy, over a causeway to Moon Island. From there, they would cross the bridge to Long Island, where Boston once housed a homeless shelter and rehabilitation programs.
Walker said the ordinance would create an exemption for Boston police and fire vehicles and emergency vehicles to traverse the roadways.
Walsh ordered the island evacuated in 2014 and shut the bridge down amid safety concerns with its structure.
In January, Walsh announced in his inaugural address that he would rebuild the bridge, triggering concerns from Quincy officials, who said they wanted to be part of the process.
“Quincy must have a seat at the table,” Koch said at the time.
In his budget proposal last week, Walsh announced that he would fully fund the $92 million bridge construction over three years. Koch submitted his proposal to ban construction vehicles this week.