The Northeastern University Pedestrian Crossing reached a critical milestone this weekend when the primary spans were lifted into place during two consecutive nights of scheduled railway shut-downs. Stretching above five rail-lines (MBTA / Amtrak) to connect the core Northeastern campus with the expanding Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) to the south of the tracks, the bridge will serve the neighborhoods of Fenway and Roxbury and support the adjacent Orange Line, bus station, and parking structures. It is a much needed, safe and fully accessible route at a key juncture in Boston.
For the last several weeks, the Northeastern community observed the bridge under fabrication in the yard adjacent to the ISEC. Early Saturday morning, the smaller span was lifted over the tracks and nested against Snell Library. General Contractor Skanska along with steel erector Atlantic Bridge and crane operators from North American Crane and Rigging provided seamless execution – the fruit of months of careful planning.
The main-event commenced early Sunday morning with a Midnight Master Class in which Payette, Arup, and Skanska spoke about the design and execution of the project. An engaged audience of about 150 students, faculty and community members asked questions of the presenters while watching a live-feed of the erection progress from the ISEC auditorium.
As the Manitowoc MLC-650 crane hoisted the main span off the ground, the audience was hard-pressed to stay in their seats and we left the auditorium to view the action from the adjacent plaza.
The Amtrak catenary wires and MBTA third rail powered-down while the main span was lifted, rotated and oriented adjacent to the tracks. As the bridge moved over the right-of-way, the observers cheered – this was a ballet performed with 242,000 pounds of steel. From our vantage on the roof of the adjacent Egan Engineering building, the Payette design team was awed by the significance of this moment. This is more than just a piece of infrastructure; this bridge is a symbol of Northeastern’s commitment to innovation and a catalyst for the research community that calls this neighborhood home.
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