Charlestown High Bridge

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Boston_CAT_Project-construction_view_from_air.jpeg
The Charlestown High Bridge (lower right) has been replaced by the now-complete Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge (center).

The Charlestown High Bridge, which spanned the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts, was part of Interstate 93 and U.S. Highway 1 at the north end of the Central Artery.

This double-decker truss bridge, built in 1954, was to originally carry Interstate 95, which was to go through Boston from southwest to northeast in tandem with the Tobin Bridge, built in 1950. The I-95 project and several other highway projects in and around Boston, including the highly controversial Inner Belt (I-695), were cancelled due to heavy public opposition in the early 1970s. Interstate 93 was allowed to be completed from the Yankee Division Highway (Route 128) to the foot of the Charlestown High Bridge in 1969, and the I-93 designation was extended onto the bridge and the Central Artery in the early 1970s.

Originally intended to carry 75,000 vehicles per day in the 1950s, the Charlestown High Bridge carried up to 190,000 vehicles per day in the 1990s. For years, the bridge was a major traffic bottleneck that affected southbound commuters from Boston's North Shore and southern New Hampshire for miles. And northbound, due to a poorly-planned lane drop to accommodate incoming vehicles from Storrow Drive, traffic backups leading to the High Bridge were threatening to cause hours of daily gridlock in downtown Boston. These problems have been addressed in the planning and construction of the $14.6 billion Big Dig project.

The elegant cable-stayed Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, which opened fully to traffic in December 2003, has replaced the Charlestown High Bridge, which was demolished in 2004.

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