Permit advances plan to rebuild the bridge to Long Island and create a comprehensive, long-term recovery campus
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the City of Boston has received Superseding Orders of Conditions (SOC) from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to rebuild the bridge to Long Island. In the ruling, MassDEP determined that Boston’s proposal meets the performance standards under the Wetlands Protection Act and minimizes impacts to coastal wetland resources in both Boston and Quincy.   “Our efforts to create a regional recovery campus on Long Island have always been guided by our fundamental belief that every person deserves a chance at recovery,” said Mayor Walsh. “The opioid crisis we’re living goes beyond city lines, and we welcome everyone’s support as we take action to help those suffering find their path to a better life. The Long Island Bridge carried the weight of those in need for more than 60 years and it’s our hope that the island will once again serve as the sanctuary it’s meant to be.”   The SOC comes after Boston appealed the Quincy Conservation Commission’s Order of Conditions denying Boston’s application to rebuild the bridge and Quincy’s appeal of the Boston Conservation Commission’s granting of the permit.     In 2014, Mayor Walsh made the decision to close Long Island Bridge to ensure public safety, demolishing the bridge superstructure. Mayor Walsh then pledged in his 2018 inaugural address to rebuild it and create a comprehensive, long-term recovery campus on Long Island.   City of Boston engineers and consultants have determined that rebuilding the bridge is necessary for day-to-day operations and emergency service to and from Long Island, presenting publicly on the plan over the last year, including at the Boston Conservation Commission, the Quincy Conservation Commission, and community meetings in both cities.   The bridge will have an estimated 75-year lifespan and will be reconstructed by rehabilitating the existing piers and placing a new superstructure, along with improving access to the roadways on both Moon Island and Long Island. After examining a ferry service, City of Boston engineers and consultants determined that this is not an adequate option given the environmental impact, cost, and typical timeline for implementation, and more importantly, the inability of a ferry to support the required public safety services for a public health campus.   The City of Boston is planning an innovative and holistic recovery campus on Long Island that will expand essential recovery services for the region, fill gaps in the continuum of care and utilize the natural environment to provide a healing space. The City has 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.   Having been in recovery for over 20 years, Mayor Walsh understands firsthand how easily addiction can take hold and how difficult it can be to recover. In his first term, Mayor Walsh made expanding access to recovery services in Boston a priority by creating the Office of Recovery Services to study substance use in Boston and lead the city’s strategy around substance use disorders, addiction and recovery. This is the first municipal recovery office in the nation.   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.   Continuing these efforts, the City of Boston filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against 13 opioid manufacturers, four distributors, and one local doctor that have contributed to the local opioid epidemic through misleading marketing and reckless dissemination of opioids that has led to the deaths of more than 830 Boston residents since 2014. As part of the litigation, the City is seeking to recover both past and future damages and injunctive relief associated with addressing the opioid epidemic in Boston.