MassDOT Starts Dismantling Process of Longfellow Bridge Tower for Repairs

March 18, 2014

More than 100 years after the last stone was set on the “salt and pepper” towers of the Longfellow Bridge, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has begun dismantling them for storage, cleaning and repair using a barge-mounted crane on the Charles River.

On March 6, MassDOT’s contractor, White-Skanska-Consigli JV, began preparations by moving into place the crane via barge from the staging area in Charlestown to the upstream side of the bridge. An ice-breaker preceded the barge to provide an unobstructed path. Once the crane was in position at the Cambridge tower the granite stones were removed and loaded on a barge. The stones were then taken to the contractor’s staging area for cleaning, storage and repair.

The towers are being dismantled to sidewalk level only. All remaining pier granite below the sidewalk is being restored in place. During stone removal, waterway access will be partially restricted through span 7, immediately adjacent to the tower. Booms and lighting will be deployed in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard requirements for boater safety.

Concurrent with the tower granite removal, the contractor needs to demolish a concrete liner to expose the inner face of the tower stonework. The concrete demolition work takes place from staging set within the towers, and will not be visible to pedestrians from street level. Once the Cambridge-side tower is dismantled, the contractor will start work on the adjacent upstream Boston tower (or Pier 5). The two downstream towers will be dismantled and restored when that side of the bridge is rehabilitated during the final phase of construction, which is planned to begin in fall 2015.

As conditions dictate, the uppermost stones comprising the tower roof may need to be removed, using a mobile crane situated on the bridge deck. In this case, the work will be done at night, during MBTA Red Line non-service hours.

The contractor plans to rebuild the iconic towers after seismic reinforcement construction is completed within the bridge tower piers. The fully restored upstream “salt and pepper” tower stonework is scheduled to be reassembled on the bridge later this year.

For more information on the project, visit For questions or to report issues related to construction, call the project hotline at 617-519-9892 or e-mail

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