News & Updates

Bright ideas sought for Fort Point’s Congress Street Bridge

Mar 29, 2016

On the heels of launching an ideas competition for the future of the Northern Avenue Bridge, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the City of Boston are again partnering to enhance the design of another nearby bridge. The latest initiative, albeit a far less daunting task than conceiving a new bridge as in the case of Northern Avenue, will nevertheless help to freshen up a historic crossing that spans the Fort Point Channel.

On Monday, the BRA in conjunction with the City of Boston and the Fort Point Channel Operations Board released a request for proposals (RFP) for lighting design of the Congress Street Bridge, a 561-foot bascule drawbridge that connects downtown Boston to the Fort Point neighborhood. The bridge, which underwent extensive rehabilitation work in 2008, dates back to 1850 and is home to the Boston Tea Party Museum. It serves as a critical pedestrian and vehicular link between the Rose Kennedy Greenway and other Boston landmarks such as the Boston Children’s Museum and Boston Harborwalk.

The RFP will help reinvigorate efforts that have been underway since 2000, when the City of Boston and the non-profit Light Boston first identified the Congress Street Bridge as a historic structure worthy of enhanced nighttime illumination. The BRA and the City are now seeking proposals from lighting design firms to add aesthetic lighting features that will help reveal and reinforce the functions of the historic bridge. When the project is complete, the bridge will join other iconic destinations such as the Old State House, the Custom House Tower, the Chinatown Gateway, and the Old South Meeting House that are aglow at night in Boston.

Respondents to the RFP are expected to offer a plan for illuminating the bridge’s central features, including the historic lanterns, bridge piers, counterweight tower, and bascule truss, as well as the Tea Party Museum. The BRA will work with the Public Works Department, Boston Landmarks Commission, and the general public to vet design proposals.

A conceptual plan for lighting the Congress Street Bridge was developed in 2004 by the firm Fisher, Morantz, and Stone at a cost of $30,000. With improvements in lighting technology that have happened since then, the recently released RFP asks firms to offer designs that use the latest technology with a focus on aesthetics, value, efficiency, durability, and maintenance of the new installation. The BRA and the City have committed up to $370,000 to support the design and installation of the selected proposal.

Financial backing for the project stems from $400,000 in mitigation funds associated with the Atlantic Wharf building on Congress Street, which opened in 2011 as the city’s first LEED Platinum skyscraper. The funds were earmarked for projects that help improve public access to and enjoyment of Boston’s waterfront. The fund is managed by the Fort Point Channel Operations Board.

An informational session for prospective respondents to the RFP will be held on Tuesday, April 5 at 10 a.m. at the Tea Party Museum. All responses to the RFP are due no later than 12 p.m. on Friday, April 22.

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