Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Brightman Street Bridge Takes The Cake


The Brightman Street Bridge turned 98 the other day. I know this because a group of people calling themselves "The Friends of the Historic Brightman Street Bridge" assembled on the bridge itself, sang happy birthday, and served cake.

I'm sure the bridge was touched.

Of course the reason these people were celebrating the "birth" of a rusting bascule bridge has more to do with its role as an obstacle in the proposed Weaver's Cover LNG facility than any true fondness for the bridge itself or any of the 'proposed' uses for it now that we're committed to seeing it NOT torn down.

I'm not going to spend a great deal of time going over the LNG battle, but for those who haven't kept up, it comes down to the old bridge is too small for standard size LNG tankers to fit through. This little fact is something that the folks at Weaver's Cove didn't consider an issue because the new replacement bridge with a wider opening is in the process of being built. However in an effort to stop the proposed facility Rep. Jim McGovern inserted legislation to stop the old bridge from being torn down. Weaver's Cove in turn said they would just use smaller ships, but while they insist the old bridge isn't an issue there have been at least two attempts to undo McGovern's legislation. So while this may not have 'stopped' the LNG facility from moving forward it would appear to be more of thorn in the site of Weaver's Cove than they have let on.

I too am against this facility being built in Fall River. I believe that the area is too congested and that Fall River has suffered enough from these types of projects. The type that are good for the state or the region, or the area, but NOT good for Fall River. So, I understand the motivation of this 'Friendship' and appreciate their efforts but at the same time I think to profess such affection for this bridge is just a little too absurd.

Historic? Friends? Let's be honest here! Does the simple fact that the Brightman Street Bridge is old also make it historic? If there were no LNG would anyone want to be its friend? Why can't we just say we don't want LNG at Weaver's Cove and if keeping the Brightman Street bridge helps prevent that, well then we want to keep the bridge?

Let's not forget that all of our professed love comes with a price tag. Keeping the roadblock, um, eh, I mean bridge will cost us several hundred thousand dollars a year in maintenance costs and any proposed reuse has been projected to be in the 20-40 million dollar range. Talk about the price of friendship! Whew!

Well anyway, Happy Birthday Brightman Street Bridge....is it too late to get a piece of that cake?

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