Central Avenue/Elliot Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project Earns National APWA Award

September 10, 2019

BETA Group, Inc. (BETA) is pleased to announce that a recent Bridge Restoration project has received national recognition by the American Public Works Association. The Central Avenue/Elliot Street Bridge Rehabilitation project was co-managed by the Town of Needham and the City of Newton, with BETA acting as primary consultant, and received a “Project of the Year” award in the category of “Historical Restoration/Preservation, Less than $5 Million” during the national Public Works Exposition.

The Central Avenue/Elliot Street Bridge, also known as Cook’s Bridge after one of the region’s first settlers, is on the site of one of the earliest bridge crossings of the Charles River. At this location, a bridge connecting the Town of Needham and the City of Newton was first built circa 1714 and rebuilt in 1857 in its current form as a three-span stone arch. The structure was widened in 1897 to support the operations of the Newton and Boston Street Railway and was further modified in 1970 with the addition of a sidewalk.

With its long and well-documented history, the bridge is listed as a contributing element to the Newton Upper Falls Historic District. However, over time the arch stones had shifted and cracked, and several dislodged, resulting in the bridge being weight posted and raising concerns over its sustainability. As a result, the two municipalities needed to rehabilitate the bridge in a manner that would preserve its historic integrity while improving its load capacity and extending its service life.

BETA was responsible for all civil and structural engineering, landscape architecture, and led the community outreach program. As subconsultants to BETA, McClanaghan Associates, Inc. was responsible for the electrical engineering and CDW Consultants, Inc. for preparing the environmental permitting applications. The Aetna Bridge Company of Warwick, RI was the prime contractor for the project. They worked diligently to work within the project constraints to successfully reopen the bridge to traffic within the allotted time.

The preservation of this important historical structure was paramount to the success of the project. From the start, both municipalities demanded a rehabilita¬tion program that restored the ability of the bridge to carry statutory loading while maintaining the sustainability and character of the stone arches and project site. The resulting rehabilitation program not only preserved the original appearance of the 19th century stone construction, but also modified the appearance so that the entire bridge now has a homogenous, authentic and aesthetic look, while restoring its capacity to serve the communities and region for many years to come.

In addition to the APWA award, this project was also awarded the 2018 Newton Preservation Award for the Sensitive Use of Contemporary Technology by the Newton Historical Commission.

The project was locally recognized at the New England Chapter APWA’s Public Works Week Luncheon in June, and received formal recognition at PWX held in Seattle, WA on September 9, 2019.