City of Boston receives key decision from Suffolk Superior court to rebuild the Long Island bridge
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced an important step forward in the rebuilding of the Long Island Bridge and the reopening of a comprehensive, long-term recovery campus on the island, first announced by the Mayor in 2018. The Quincy Conservation Commission denied the City of Boston a permit to rebuild the bridge under its local wetlands ordinance. Upon the City of Boston’s appeal to the Suffolk Superior Court, the Court ruled for the City of Boston and its efforts to rebuild the Long Island Bridge. This decision is another affirmation that the City is taking appropriate measures to minimize environmental impacts of the project.
“There is no doubt the opioid crisis has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the temporary closure of supports and services,” said Mayor Walsh. “We applaud this very well-reasoned decision by the Suffolk Superior Court which brings us one step closer to providing people with services they need to attain and maintain recovery. This is something that goes beyond city lines, and we continue to hope to work together with the City of Quincy to move forward on this project that will serve and benefit the region.”
The Quincy Conservation Commission, the body that administers permits under the Wetlands Protection Act and Quincy Wetlands Protection Ordinance in Quincy city limits, originally denied the City of Boston’s application to rebuild the bridge in September 2018. Following that denial and upon the City of Boston’s appeal to the Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the DEP issued a Superseding Order of Conditions, overruling the Quincy Conservation Commission’s denial under the State Wetlands Protection Act. In that decision, DEP affirmed that the City was taking appropriate measures to minimize environmental impacts to wetland resource areas.
While the City continues its review, it reads the decision by the Suffolk Superior Court to say that DEP’s determination that the project meets the requirements of the Wetlands Protection Act supersedes the Quincy Conservation Commission’s denial under its Local Wetlands Ordinance because its Ordinance, as applied to the project, is not more strict than the State Wetlands Protection Act.
Quincy has brought challenges to other permits from local and state agencies, and Boston continues to defend the proposed reconstruction of the Long Island Bridge and the Public Works Department’s efforts to put forth a project that minimizes impacts to environmental resources.
The Long Island Bridge connected Moon and Long Islands for roughly 65 years before being closed in 2014 due to public safety concerns. In order to reestablish access to the existing public health facilities on Long Island, the City designed the replacement bridge, presented the project at multiple public hearings and community meetings, and applied for all necessary local, state, and federal permits. To minimize environmental and construction impacts, the proposed new bridge will be reconstructed by rehabilitating the existing piers and placing, section-by-section, a new superstructure on those piers that is built on shore and floated into location.
As work on the bridge progresses, the City of Boston is planning an innovative and holistic recovery campus on Long Island that will expand essential recovery services for the region by adding hundreds of treatment beds, fill gaps in the continuum of care and utilize the natural environment to provide a healing space. The City contracted with Gensler and Ascension Recovery Services to identify the types of services, resources and treatment options that would be best suited for the island and create a master plan for the recovery campus.
Under the leadership of Mayor Walsh, the City has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the opioid epidemic, serving people in all stages of the continuum of care, from providing harm reduction services to ensure people can maintain health in various aspects of their lives, to connecting people with beds at rehabilitation facilities, to offering inpatient and outpatient programming, to long-term peer support for those further along in their recovery journey.
More than 900 Boston residents have died of confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths between 2015 and 2019, according to the latest data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.