The Salt and Pepper bridge — officially, the Longfellow Bridge — reopened Thursday, after a five-year, $300 million rehab. Yes, it was expensive, and yes, it took longer than promised, but give the state and the workers on the project their due: The bridge over the Charles River between Beacon Hill and Cambridge looks great, and the rehabilitation ensures that future generations can enjoy a landmark that’s graced the skyline for the last century.
One reason the repairs took so long — the job was supposed to be finished in 2016 — was the state’s desire to get historical details right. Workers had to relearn obsolete building techniques. Original fixtures had to be replicated. All of that while also minimizing disruption to the MBTA’s Red Line, which runs over the bridge. The bridge also carries two bike lanes, three lanes of car traffic, and sidewalks on both sides, all of which appeared to be flowing smoothly on Friday.
Now, a cynic might suggest that the Baker administration has stretched the definition of “done” in order to meet its self-imposed May deadline. Some pedestrian facilities are still under construction, and it seems unlikely that the boarded-up openings that were still on the iconic saltshakers as of Friday afternoon are historically accurate. But those are just quibbles. It’s great that the bridge is done, and it’ll be even better when it’s doner.