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Regional Boards => Northeast => Topic started by: roadman on September 10, 2013, 10:58:33 PM

Title: Tobin Bridge - September 10th, 1973
Post by: roadman on September 10, 2013, 10:58:33 PM
Today, September 10th, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of one of the more notable problems to ever affect Boston area traffic.

At about 7:45 am, a semi-truck named Georges Tonka Toy, which was headed for Logan Airport with an overloaded trailer of gravel, lost control and struck one of the support bents of the Tobin Bridge as it was entering the lower (northbound) deck from the slip ramp at Henley Street in Charlestown.  This caused the upper deck of the bridge to collapse at that location.

see photo at:  http://www.bostonglobe.com/specials/insiders/2013/01/30/the-mystic-tobin-bridge/ctFgn28weLMC7rgOYkyMlK/story.html?pic=7

Beside shutting down the Tobin for about four months while repairs were effected, the collapse had another long lasting effect on the Boston area.  It forced MassDPW to finally open the portion of I-695 between the Charles River Crossing and Somerville (now the I-93 upper and lower decks) to traffic.  This section of I-695 had been mostly completed in 1970, but had remained closed due to concerns about additional traffic overloading the junction between Storrow Drive, the Tobin Bridge, and the Central Artery.

Even though I was still in elementary school at the time (I had just started sixth grade), I will always remember the Tobin collapse for two reasons.

First, September 10th is my birthday (I had just turned 12 that day).  As such, instead of riding the school bus home, my mother came to pick me up.  On the way home, we stopped at the local Richdale dairy store (precursor to the modern convenience store) to get milk and a paper.  The Tobin collapse was the front page story in the Lynn Daily Item.

Second, in early December of 1973, our class took a field trip into Boston to tour the Massachusetts State House.  Leaving Downtown Boston, our bus driver tried to take the Tobin Bridge northbound, found it blocked off at the old exit ramp into Charlestown (the repair work had not yet been completed) and had no clue as to how to get back to Lynn.  Fortunately, one of the adult chaperones on the trip was familar with Charlestown and guided us to the North Washington Street bridge, and then to the Callahan Tunnel.
Title: Re: Tobin Bridge - September 10th, 1973
Post by: PHLBOS on September 11, 2013, 08:32:54 AM
Even though I was still in elementary school at the time (I had just started sixth grade), I will always remember the Tobin collapse for two reasons.
I was in 1st grade at the time (6 going on 7) and I remember hearing about it vividly.

First, September 10th is my birthday (I had just turned 12 that day).
Happy Belated Birthday.  :wave:

The Tobin collapse was the front page story in the Lynn Daily Item.
I still remember the front page picture showing the collapsed portion on the Record American, predecessor to the current Boston Herald.

That linked-photo gives a good shot of the old yellow railing lights I commented on in the You're too old if you remember... thread.
Title: Re: Tobin Bridge - September 10th, 1973
Post by: KEVIN_224 on September 11, 2013, 11:44:13 AM
Amazingly, as many times as I've been on this bridge with trips to/from Portland, ME, I have never heard about that accident. I'm 42 years old now. My first visit to Boston was on Thursday, June 3, 1982 (5th grade field trip and I was 11 years old). I don't think I was on this bridge until about March of 1992, when I crossed part of it with a friend, heading to the Mystic Mall (I think?).

I noticed that there's an old WNAC-TV channel 7 cameraman on top of a live truck in this picture, on the left side:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/specials/insiders/2013/01/30/the-mystic-tobin-bridge/ctFgn28weLMC7rgOYkyMlK/story.html?pic=4
Title: Re: Tobin Bridge - September 10th, 1973
Post by: cpzilliacus on September 11, 2013, 11:12:57 PM
Great story, and an amazing image.   Thanks for sharing.

From the looks of it, I almost wonder why the entire upper deck did not crash down onto the lower deck.