By Chloe Gotsis
Newton - Nearly a decade after state Rep. Kay Khan set out to restore a dangerous and unused bridge connecting Newton to Wellesley, officials cut the ribbon on the newly reconstructed Trestle Bridge.
“All I can say is wow, what a day, what an accomplishment,” said Khan, a Lower Falls resident, at the ceremony Tuesday. “It has been a great community effort.”
The funding for the renovation of the former rail bridge spanning the Charles River came from Gov. Deval Patrick’s 2008 accelerated bridge program and the project was overseen by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The push to remodel the bridge, which has been unused and decrepit for nearly 40 years, faced stiff opposition from Lower Falls residents whose homes border the bridge and who claimed it would lead to a bike trail through the neighborhood.
“We were astonished at the outpouring of rage from a small number of abutters,” said Alderman Deborah Crossley, who was on the Newton League of Women Voters—one of the local groups involved in the project—at the time the project was being discussed.
Public officials and community members from both Wellesley and Newton came out for the ceremonial ribbon cutting Tuesday.
The project went through seven years of meetings and public hearings before the Newton Conservation Commission finally approved the design in May 2010, Khan said. Reconstruction of the bridge began in late fall 2010 and was completed in May 2011.
The remodeled pedestrian and bicycle bridge project includes approaches to the bridge on Concord Street in Newton Lower Falls to Washington Street in Wellesley. While construction was completed in May 2011, landscaping and screening of the bridge and pathway has been ongoing.
State and local officials commended Khan at the ribbon cutting for her strong will and determination in pushing the project forward.
“Today while we celebrate this bridge, we really celebrate the leadership of Rep. Khan,” said State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan. “She ultimately at the end of the day gets things done and is on the right side of the project.”
Sullivan worked with Khan on the project when he was commissioner of the state department of conservation and recreation.
Mayor Setti Warren commended Khan for her persistence.
“There is no one more passionate abut the things that matter in her community than Rep. Khan,” he said. “Thank you for your leadership, your stubbornness and your calls.”
Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said he’s learned in his position and as the former mayor of Worcester that “working on something isn’t the same as getting something done” and the Trestle Bridge project is an example of that.
Barbara Searle, the chairman of the Wellesley Board of Selectmen, called the bridge a “wonderful enhancement to this part of town” and said the town is looking forward to accessing the trail on Washington Street.