Approximately 250 Quincy residents and elected officials turned out Tuesday night to show support for the city’s efforts to block a bridge to Long Island.
“We’re all in agreement. We don’t want to see the bridge go back to Long Island,” Mayor Thomas Koch told the crowd that filled the gymnasium in Squantum Elementary School and spilled out the back doors.
Koch, Ward 6 Councilor William Harris, and state Representative Bruce Ayers, heard from constituents who are concerned about Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s plan to rebuild the Long Island Bridge, which was shut down and destroyed in 2014 amid structural concerns.
Boston owns Long Island, and Walsh would like to create a recovery campus for people dealing with addiction, but access to the bridge would go through Squantum, a densely populated peninsula with narrow streets on Quincy’s north side.
Members of the crowd, which included other elected officials, were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the Walsh administration’s plan to rebuild the bridge. Several expressed disdain for Boston.
“They’re just a poor neighbor,” said Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey. “We’ll have to fight hard, both in the legislature and in the courts.”
Koch said Quincy has done a lot to help people struggling with addiction, and has sites for treatment. He rejected the argument that he is opposed to the bridge because it will bring drug users through town.
“The issue is not what happens on Long Island,” Koch said. “The issue is access to Long Island.”
Squantum resident Jim Stamos said the neighborhood can’t handle the additional traffic the bridge would create.
“In the morning you can’t get out of Squantum,” Stamos said. “This bridge can never be built.”
Boston officials recently said they would float some bridge construction materials in on barges, to take traffic off the street, but that hasn’t convinced Quincy officials.
Quincy has a multi-pronged approach to fighting the bridge. The city has hired legal and engineering consultants to present the best case for why the bridge should not be rebuilt. State legislators from Quincy are trying to fight the plan on Beacon Hill. And in the Council, Harris is sponsoring ordinances that will restrict traffic on a section of Dorchester Street in Squantum to private passenger vehicles, and add more oversight to issuing bridge permits, which Boston will need to obtain from Quincy.
The state has nearly 500 structurally deficient bridges, and Ayers questioned the wisdom of building a new one when Long Island could be served more cheaply by ferry service. The new bridge is estimated to cost $92 million and take three years to build.
The city will push ferry service as an alternative to the bridge during the state’s environmental review process, said Quincy’s city solicitor, James Timmins. Boston officials have said ferry service is unreliable for a recovery campus.
The next phase of the process will take place May 16, when Quincy will present its case to Boston’s Conservation Commission, Timmins said.Jill Terreri Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jillterreri.