Frequent contributor Jim Peters shares his thoughts on the University Ave Bridge, an issue on the city council agenda tomorrow night:
The problem with following the meanderings of the mind is that the mind is relatively complex, although some of my friends say I do not have to worry about that, but it is and it is hard to pin down specific interests. One specific interest I do not have to worry about coming to grips with is the Textile Memorial Bridge. That is the bridge slated to be torn down by the city when the new bridge over the river is completed. A few years ago, apparently, at least this is what I have been told, a similiar bridge in Wisconsin, I believe, fell into a river while congested with traffic. The death toll was fairly high. Anyway, the Textile Memorial Bridge is apparently of the same type of design and it was decided that it should come down. There are a few problems with that:
1. The Textile Memorial Bridge just underwent a one million dollar overhaul to solidify it. That overhaul should have made the bridge solid and able to stand as a pedestrian walkway, no cars, just pedestrians and bicycle riders.
2. The Textile Memorial Bridge has one of the best views of the river in the city.
3. The Textile Memorial Bridge has, to the best of my knowledge, never shown a tendency to fall down.
4. The Textile Memorial Bridge is a unique pedestrian walkway from the East Campus of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell to the North Campus at University Avenue.
5. The Textile Memorial Bridge was memorialized for sixteen brave servicemen who died in World War II and were students at Lowell Technological Institute.
6. The Textile Memorial Bridge is in a unique position to benefit the University of Massachusetts at Lowell by providing a solid pedestrian walkway for students, a solid connection to one of Lowell’s greatest 20th. Century writers, Jack Kerouac who used it as a backdrop in “Dr. Sax” and I believe in “The Town and the City.” The watermelon man, featured in the first book mentioned, was a character who crosses that bridge, and, perhaps best of all, it is a chance for the relatively tight quarters inherited from Lowell State College and the Lowell Technological Institute to be a bit less restrictive by using the bridge as a place for students to gather, and fundraisers to be held.
7. The Textile Bridge could become a mecca to students of all shapes, sizes, and characteristics to sit in the sun on an unused bridge which could be inundated with gardens, shops, and stores which sell University merchandise to people who want to see a usable bridge made more useful by the interaction of the University and the City.
On Tuesday night, at the Council meeting, there is a motion put forth by, I believe, Councilor Rita Mercier to let the bridge stand. I believe that that would be in the best interests of the city, which will show that it is important to maintain a healthy memorial to Jack Kerouac’s work, and the University, which would hopefully take over the bridge and put gardens and shops and bike trails across the bridge in order to increase its usefulness to the student population that uses the bridge currently and could use it in myriad ways. I envision a student population using the bridge for a great many things in thirty years and never having heard of me, or the members of the organization working so diligently to save the bridge like George DeLuca, and Mike Wurm. It is not important that we be remembered, but it is important that Jack Kerouac and the sixteen servicemen be remembered. Lowell has the unique opportunity to save itself for future generations. This includes the bridge and the (out of the National Park confines) mill buildngs and smokestacks. It is our responsibility to make sure that that happens.
Therefore, I request that anyone interested in saving the bridge, and anyone interested in the bridge’s history attend Tuesday night’s Council meeting. It is not important that any of us be remembered, as I said, but it is important that the bridge be saved. And that could happen on Tuesday. I also request that this request be placed in the Blog both Monday and Tuesday. We have to save the salvageable in Lowell. It is our right, it is our responsibility, and it is our destiny.