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Before the Route 79 viaduct (shown here in this photo from March 2013) was removed as part of the Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project, it reached a state of disrepair, and impaired access to the waterfront both visually and physically. (Courtesy of MassDOT and the Barletta Heavy/O&G Joint Venture)

Before the Route 79 viaduct (shown here in this photo from March 2013) was removed as part of the Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project, it reached a state of disrepair, and impaired access to the waterfront both visually and physically.
(Courtesy of MassDOT and the Barletta Heavy/O&G Joint Venture)

Thanks to MassDOT’s Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project, Fall River residents and visitors are once again enjoying sweeping views and easier access to their waterfront. City Pier and points north along the Taunton River shoreline have been hidden from view since the elevated Route 79 viaduct was built in 1965. The viaduct helped motorists travel through Fall River more efficiently, but it did little to connect visitors to the City or its waterfront.

Now that the viaduct has been removed, residents and visitors can enjoy wide-open views of the waterfront and easier access to its attractions, as shown in this rendering of the ramp from I-195 westbound to Route 79 northbound over Central Street, the one and only elevated structure in the project.   (Courtesy of VHB)

Now that the viaduct has been removed, residents and visitors can enjoy wide-open views of the waterfront and easier access to its attractions, as shown in this rendering of the ramp from I-195 westbound to Route 79 northbound over Central Street, the one and only elevated structure in the project.
(Courtesy of VHB)

A half-century later, the bi-level structure and its “spaghetti” ramps were in disrepair and at the end of their useful lifespan. As part of the Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project, MassDOT has removed the viaduct to make way for a new, mostly surface-level roadway. The final outcome of the project will improve traffic flow and access to local businesses and waterfront attractions, enhance pedestrian and bicycle access and accommodations, and benefit the entire community. Popular attractions – such as Battleship Cove, Heritage State Park, Gates of the City, the boardwalk, and Community Boating – will also see improved connections for residents and visitors.

The new surface roadway that combines Route 79 and Davol Street will be complemented by two entirely new roadways — Water Street Connector and Milliken Connector — offering more ways to reach the waterfront. Wider sidewalks, dedicated six-foot bike lanes, a shared-use path, and three new signalized intersections on Route 79 will make the area safer for walkers and bicyclists. A map of the new bicycle accommodations is on our website.

Site Plan for the new waterfront district plaza in Fall River, which is set to be open by the end of this summer. The plaza will feature landscaped plantings of canopy trees, salvaged stone seating, ornamental lighting, and space for public art.  (Courtesy of Copley-Wolff)

Site Plan for the new waterfront district plaza in Fall River, which is set to be open by the end of this summer. The plaza will feature landscaped plantings of canopy trees, salvaged stone seating, ornamental lighting, and space for public art.
(Courtesy of Copley-Wolff)

At the heart of the network will be a new waterfront district. It will include a plaza area along Broadway Extension/Route 138, between Anawan Street and Water Street Connector, which will serve as a gateway to the city for visitors and a gathering spot for residents. The plaza will feature an open concept structure, bicycle racks, seating created from salvaged granite blocks, ornamental lighting and fences, decorative pavement, tree plantings and ground cover, and spaces for public art.

Residents and visitors are already reaping the benefits of the wide-open riverside views where the viaduct once stood. Soon enough, the new roadways will be complete and Fall River can enjoy a renewed waterfront and a vibrant new district.

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