Celebrating Whitney Wharf Bridge at Hingham Harbor

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“York Bridge Concepts Inc. of Lutz, Florida, the builders of the structure, are craftsmen who have constructed a bridge for the citizens of Hingham to be proud of.”

A “Harbor Walk” has long been part of the Harbor Development Committee’s vision of a future Hingham harbor, literally a walkable path from Crow Point to the Hingham Maritime Center on Barnes Wharf.

By William S. ReardonHingham Journal
On Saturday, July 2, past and present Town officials and members of the community gathered to celebrate the completion of the Whitney Wharf Pedestrian Bridge. The Bridge is a long-envisioned and important civic accomplishment for the Town, approved by the Town’s voters and paid for with tax dollars through several grants from the Community Preservation Fund.

A “Harbor Walk” has long been part of the Harbor Development Committee’s (HDC) vision of a future Hingham harbor, literally a walkable path from Crow Point to the Hingham Maritime Center on Barnes Wharf. The concept was originally floated as a key element of the 2007 Harbor Master Plan prepared by Mazzarelli and Associates. The dream was to mirror the very successful Boston Harbor Walk along Boston’s waterfront piers.
This recently completed bridge is actually the second piece of our Hingham Harbor walk. It allows citizens to avoid the narrow dangerous sidewalk along route 3A and reach Whitney Wharf Park directly over Town Brook. The first piece of the walk was completed earlier this spring along the front of the Bathing Beach Parking lot. Here, an 8-foot wide brick path suitable for walkers, strollers or bicycles was completed, safely separated from auto activity by a sturdy wood barrier. Prospectively, HDC is working with engineering consultants on the Route 3A transportation corridor project and on a summary of the condition of the seven town-owned wharves on the harbor. Any roadway design and wharf repairs or modifications will aim to add further links to the Harbor Walk Plan.

Present at the dedication and ribbon cutting were many former HDC members who envisioned this bridge, especially Cheryl Fenton, widow of HDC member Dave Fenton, who championed this project through the Community Preservation Committee grant request effort in 2012. Also present or by proxy were many other citizen leaders of the town who held positions as CPC members, Advisory Committee Members or prior Selectmen who supported this project.

Special thanks were given to Gerry Preble, President of Beals and Thomas, Consulting Engineers for the Project; to Roger Fernandes, Town Engineer, and his administrative assistant Carol Costello, as well as to engineering intern Jake Van Dine. York Bridge Concepts Inc. of Lutz, Florida, the builders of the structure, are craftsmen who have constructed a bridge for the citizens of Hingham to be proud of.

We also extended the Town’s thanks to Nick Bonn, the owner of the Marina and Red Eye Roasters building adjacent to the pedestrian pier project, who worked with us to grant the town a real-estate easement across his land for the ramp, stairs and deck to the bridge. Bob Weeks, the owner of Red Eye Roasters, and his many loyal customers, received our thanks for putting up with construction out his back window all this spring.

Speakers at the dedication included Harry Wey, former Chair of the HDC, who was involved with the 2003 original history of the bridge concept and related challenges as part of the Whitney Wharf Park initiative; and Bob Curley, current chairman of CPC, who spoke about CPC support for the bridge concept over its 13-year gestation period and how the project fits in to the Community Preservation mission.

Selectman Paul Healey brought the comments to a close with the Selectmen’s perspective on the long-awaited completion of this project and its significance to the future of the harbor as a major Hingham asset. Following his remarks, Harry Wey, Bob Curley, Selectman Healey and I were privileged to cut the ribbon, symbolizing the official opening of the bridge!

There is one unfinished piece of business. The bridge was not officially named on Saturday. Under a formal naming process, recommendations for names can be submitted to the Selectmen. Several names have been submitted already, some with historical significance, some honoring more recent Hingham residents. The Selectmen will work with the Town’s Historical Commission to develop a naming recommendation for voters to consider, possibly at next year’s Annual Town Meeting in April 2017.