Renowned Architect Designs a New Pedestrian Bridge for Revere Beach

-By Seth Daniel

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There are a number of images on Revere Beach that define the three-mile stretch.

There’s Kelly’s Roast Beef, the Pavilions, the large clock and, of course, the Reinstein Bandstand.

Now, there’s about to be a new, more modern, icon for the Beach – a pedestrian bridge designed by a world-renowned bridge design firm.

As part of the Wonderland Transit Oriented Development, a new pedestrian bridge is called for from the Wonderland Station to the Beach – stretching over Ocean Avenue and providing an unimpeded passage to America’s first public beach.

But Mayor Tom Ambrosino and the MBTA didn’t want just any walking bridge, so they enlisted the services of Miguel Rosales of Boston’s Rosales & Partners.

Rosales was the lead architect of the now-iconic Zakim Bridge in Boston and is currently working on the rehabilitation of the Longfellow Bridge. What he created for Revere Beach, at least on the design pad, looks to be just as memorable.

“These bridges sometimes serve as a image for an area,” said Rosales in an interview with the Journal. “People get attached to these bridges and their image and they become important to a city or a place. That’s what happened with the Zakim Bridge and we expect that to happen at Revere Beach too.”

Mayor Tom Ambrosino was blown away with the design, saying he will be very excited to see it come to life.

“This will be the iconic signature element for that development,” said the mayor. “Everyone will remember the Beach for that bridge in the future. We wanted a cabled bridge and it’s a beautiful design. That company is a world-renowned bridge design firm and they produced a gorgeous design for Revere Beach.”

Rosales’s design is somewhat similar to the Zakim, with a large and wide-open promenade supported by attractive cables that run from two towers. Rosales said they kept the bridge open so that the focal point remained on the clock tower, pavilions and the ocean. They did that by inverting the towers to create more of an open-air feel.

“The idea was always to have a cable-supported bridge, but the MBTA wanted something more specific,” said Rosales. “I thought it would be important to have a bridge people would remember. So, we decided to make the towers in an outward V-shape. It makes more of a gateway through to the Beach – opening the view. We put a lot of effort in the details of the cable arrangement. The Beach is very important because it’s so beautiful. It is the first public beach in the U.S. People always associate it with the two pavilions and we wanted to keep those very visible.”

Rosales also said that the walking bridge will appear a little more modern than the historic nature of the rest of the Beach.

“This bridge is a modern structure with the historic feel of the Beach,” he said. “It’s important to add a modern element that will help attract additional development to the area.”

So far, the design has elicited nothing but applause.

“I’m impressed,” said  City Planner Frank Stringi.

Ernie Garneau of the Revere Beach Partnership said it will become more than just a symbol for the Beach in coming years.

“It is impressive and will become one of the images of the new Revere, especially as it will spur new development along the beach in an area that is underutilized now,” he said. “As a symbol it reminds me of the Zakim Bridge, a symbol of the new Boston and how it is featured as such. Being connected to a transit orientated development project, I think it also is a sign of the future and how these type of projects can have a positive impact on an entire community. I know it will have a positive impact on Revere beyond just a symbol.”

The bridge project and accompanying pedestrian plaza (located just outside the second floor of Wondy Station, above what is now the parking lot) has gone out to bid and those bids are expected to be opened in early May. Construction is expected to be completed in June 2012.

However, the entire bridge project will be determined by just how much those bids come in at. If the bids are high, the bridge might have to become less iconic, a reality that no one wants but that may be unavoidable.

“I just hope the bridge is affordable when the bids come back,” said the mayor. “It all comes down to money so we’ll see where the money comes in at.”

The project will be paid for with a TIGER Grant, which is federal money that is to be spent in a way that improves pedestrian access and public spaces.


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