University Ave Bridge in Lowell

Tony Sampas takes some photos from atop the University Ave Bridge.

14 Responses to University Ave Bridge in Lowell

  1. PaulM says:

    Tony, the first photo could be a view of Earth from space, and the second one reminds me of the traditional Japanese landscape scrolls that always have a small figure of a person, often a holy hobo, to remind us that humans are part of nature, too. The unifying colors of the two images, soft blues and rose tones, make this a special pairing.

  2. Marie says:

    The fact of the Enel/Boott Hydro facility in pic #2 juxtaposed to the “natural” scene in pic#1 is a telling tale. Love your shadowed-self (I assume) overlooking it all! (Yes, I know that the natural in pic #1 might have had some ACE help after the flood of ’36 but just the same…)

  3. Tony Sampas says:

    Marie, Theodore Steinberg said it well by entitling his book: “Nature Incorporated: Industrialization and the Waters of New England.”

  4. George DeLuca says:

    Great shots from the “Textile Memorial Bridge”. It’s a historical bridge built in 1896 which in 1947 was renamed to memorialize 16 veterans who died for our country during World War II. These Vets were alumni of Lowell Textile University.

    There’s a coalition to save the bridge from demolition, as the bridge itself is also thought to have future use as a pedestrian/trolley bridge connecting the North and East Campuses; with potential for the future planned trolley expansion (across the bridge) which would run along Father Morrisette Blvd, connecting Downtown, MCC, the Inn and Conference Center, and ultimately from the Hamilton Canal District to the train depot on Thorndike St.

    Not to mention it’s cultural significance as it’s also known as the “Watermelon Bridge” in the Kerouac novel “Dr. Sax”. There’s a lot to like about the bridge, and, hopefully it will be saved from the wrecking ball.

  5. George DeLuca says:

    I bumped into Paul Marion at Top Donut this morning, who was having a conversation with Armand Lemay. Paul noted it would be advantageous to UML to save the bridge to maintain the pedestrian connection between the UML North and East Campus’. We discussed several advantages of retaining the bridge if it were feasible.

    Armand agreed that it would be great to keep the bridge, but it was his understanding that the bridge could not be saved because of engineering and logistics issues associated with the angle and trajectory of the new bridge which is completely designed. Armand felt it was a “done deal”.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about the feasibility issue, and now the drums are beating louder. The best time to address such issues would be in the preliminary studies phase of design. And since that “horse left the barn” long ago, “done deal” may be the final word.

  6. PaulM says:

    Thanks, George. That was former City Councilor Curtis LeMay, son of former Mayor Armand, who we chatted with this morning. What a great gathering at Top Donut in Centralville. Must have been about 40 people from the blogging community, maybe more with the coming and going in the two hours. I met many people for the first time, and reconnected with others. Looking forward to the next blogger meet-up.

  7. George DeLuca says:

    For whoever is keeping score, here’s the current tally based on today’s article in the Lowell Sun by Evan Lipps:

    1. According to MassHighway spokesman Richard Nagle: The City isn’t “… willing to maintain (the bridge) for pedestrian use.”

    2. Tom Golden says “The issue is that someone has to take ownership over (the bridge).”

    3. UML’s Patti McCafferty: “… the school would support saving the bridge as a pedestrian only walkway, but acknowledged that a lot of questions need to be answered concerning ownership.” “In a perfect world, it would be great to have a pedestrians-only bridge, but at this point not enough work has been done to determine if this is feasible.”

    Mr. Nagle did not mention any logistical or engineering issues that would preclude the feasibility of a redesignated use of the bridge. However, since the new bridge also outlets to the University Ave./Pawtucket Blvd. intersection the trolley extension idea is apparently not going to happen without some design intervention. At this late stage, outlook is not so good.

    A. Is it feasible in terms of engineering, economics and usefulness to save the Textile Memorial Bridge from the scrap heap?
    B. Can the State funds earmarked for its demolition be used towards its designated reuse and maintenance?
    C. Who would take long term responsibility?
    D. Who wants to pick up the ball from here?

  8. JoeS says:

    Good questions. Unfortunately, (A) would probably take time and money to answer, and no one would want to do that except possibly the State, who would possibly be in the position to save some of the demolition costs should it be converted to pedestrian/other re-use (B). The primary need would seem to be for UML, and therefore that should be the answer to (C). The ball (D) implies money!

  9. Al Lorenzo says:

    I have read much published material as to the feasability of saving the Textile Memorial Bridge and I would think the college would support the idea. It not only would tie two campuses together as a pedestrian bridge but mainly it is dedicated to Lowell Textile students who gave their lives in WWll. Where can I find the names and backgrounds of these very brave men so I myself can honor their memories.

  10. George DeLuca says:

    As one who’s on the committee to save the Textile Memorial Bridge and who posed “The Hard Questions” above, here’s a brief update:

    Per Jim Peters at the last meeting: City Councilor Patrick Murphy has met with Chancellor Meehan who has spoke positively about UML interest, noting that UML has expressed interest in UML ownership of the bridge, and UML has contacted the Commonwealth about a possible transfer of ownership, and, about the possibility of using funds earmarked for demolition towards a reprogramming/feasibility effort to kick off a adaptive re-use project.

    I’m hoping that the feasibility of running the Trolley over the bridge will be part of the UML study, assuming they move forward.

    As for the names of the veterans who the bridge memorializes, Jim Peters has a list and he can be reached via email at .

  11. George DeLuca says:

    Learned a little more last night:
    The Save the Bridge group is organizing an event for June which would involve closing the Bridge so that people can experience it as a pedestrian bridge. There will be entertainment, music, food, etc.

    Also, the group will be canvassing for signatures from those interested in saving the bridge, to pass on to Chancellor Meehan. This may be an activity that UML students could also get involved in.

    As far as we know, the local delegation has not been contacted yet.

  12. Corey says:

    My $.02:

    * One of the most serious shortcomings of the current bridge is that on the Acre bank, it aligns with nothing. This was done in the 1960s when Moody st was truncated. I talked to Adam Baacke about saving the current bridge by reopening Moody Street, and he said it had been considered and is off the table (neighborhood was uninterested). That means that if the current bridge stays, there will also be a new one.

    * Both bridges are supposed to align with University Ave on the Pawtucketville bank. It sounds nearly physically impossible to have both operate the same space at the same time.

    * We have a fantastic opportunity to build a true “Memorial Bridge” here with dual, wide, sidewalks and bike lanes. This bridge could have numerous plaques along its length describing Pawtucketville, the rapids it crosses, Kerouac, The Acre / Little Canada, The University, Saint Joe’s/Corporation Hospital, and of course the soldiers the bridge is dedicated to. It could be very well lit and friendly for students after dark. In my mind, it has always looked like the Calvin Coolidge Bridge in Northampton or the French King Bridge on the Mohawk Trail.

    * Building a bridge like this should NOT sit inches from the busy mass of the old bridge. Look at what the Tyngsboro Temporary Bridge does to the view of the “old” bridge – totally wrecks it. Same with the view from either bridge down to the riverbed below. You would ruin it if all you saw was another bridge.

    * The University shouldn’t spend all its time and money saving sentimental and obsolete structures. They should be bringing affordable, quality education to students. The city should be doing preventative maintenance on infrastructure they do plan to keep instead of rehabbing a very large and expensive vehicular bridge for pedestrian use.

    * Therefore, I vote if we can’t save just the old bridge and rehab it to be more friendly to pedestrians, etc, we should tear it down. It looks modular, so plop part of it in a park somewhere, maybe along that ugly bank along the VFW in front of North Campus. The girdering underneath it is fantastic. It’d be nice if you didn’t have to get on the North Canal Walkway to appreciate it.

  13. George DeLuca says:

    There’s a good chance the bridge will be reprogrammed for pedestrian/park use connecting the North and East Campus’. The only question of real significance remaining is its feasibility as a trolley crossing to transport students, professors and UML employees from Downtown Lowell to Cumnock Hall and back.