Several Revere officials are none too happy about a plan floated by the state Department of Transportation to close off Ocean Avenue for the next eight weeks, starting Sept. 17th.
The closure would affect Ocean Avenue and lower Revere Street and would be done to accommodate construction on the new pedestrian footbridge that goes from Wonderland Station to Revere Beach.
That bridge work is slated to finish in November, but before that can happen, the street must be closed.
Just about everyone is on board with some sort of closure, but local officials are hoping that an alternative to total closure can be found – especially with newfound traffic congestion caused by the recently-opened Wonderland Parking Garage.
Fire Chief Gene Doherty said closing Ocean Avenue would be a disaster.
“We, the Fire Department, are not pleased with the proposed plan and are hoping there is an alternative so that we may keep Ocean Avenue opened in a limited way,” he said. “The proposed closure will create a virtual gridlock between Ocean Avenue, the Boulevard, Revere Street and North Shore Road that will preclude the effective response of emergency apparatus in the area or attempting to utilize these roads to get to the Boulevard, lower Revere Street, Oak Island and the Pines – as well as the high rises on Ocean Avenue. While we will get there in an emergency, but we will be more than likely delayed.”
Superintendent Paul Dakin said the schools had just been apprised of the situation, and are anticipating a meeting this Thursday that could provide more information. He said that Ocean Avenue is a vital thoroughfare used by school buses getting kids to the Beachmont, Garfield and Paul Revere Schools – not to mention others like Revere High.
“Closing that road would mean a major transportation impact for getting kids to and from school,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of information right now, but have been alerted to the potential problems. We might end up having to pick up kids earlier for longer bus routes. Hopefully there will be an alternative.”
City Councillors, such as Ira Novoselsky – who represents the Ocean Avenue area, said they weren’t even invited to discussions about the closure.
“As far as I know, the City Councillors have not been invited for input, at least not me, or even given the courtesy of letting us know what is planned, or that meetings have been held or planned for the future,” he said. “This directly affects my ward, Ward 5 and Ward 3. I totally disagree on shutting down lower Revere Street and Ocean Ave. This would be a safety disaster and an accommodation disgrace to the local residents. Something has to be done other than totally shutting down Ocean Avenue between Revere Street and Chester Street.”
One compromise solution has been discussed, and that is using the old busway and drop-off area on the east side of Wonderland as a route for safety vehicles and buses.
So far, most local officials prefer the busway alternative to shutting down the street completely.
Mayor Dan Rizzo’s office said that Suffolk Construction is running the shutdown and is still in ongoing discussions about how to accommodate traffic while finishing the walkway.