Mayor Kirk Asks You To Vote In This Good Harbor Footbridge Poll

Mayor Kirk is asking for community feedback-

Hi Joey,
We have a bit of a dilemma regarding the Good Harbor Beach footbridge.

The estimate we have for repairs is $65,000. This is basically a temporary fix and carries the risk of being washed away during the next big storms. Also, the Conservation Commission is throwing down the gauntlet on any more temporary fixes.

An alternative would be to have the broken section be replaced with an aluminum boat ramp-like structure. It would have a synthetic decking, four feet wide with railings, and hook in on just the ends (no pilings necessary). Total cost of this fix is $20,000, the ramp would be made here in Gloucester by a Gloucester company, and could be finished within 3 weeks. It could be removed in the event of a hurricane as well.

So I gotta ask GMG readers, which would you rather?

New England Charm? ($65,000 wooden temporary repair)


Yankee Ingenuity? ($20,000 aluminum repair on broken section, rest would remain wood).

Your readers probably photograph / paint this view more than most so we thought we’d start here to gather feedback.

Mayor Kirk

48 thoughts on “Mayor Kirk Asks You To Vote In This Good Harbor Footbridge Poll

  1. sad to say I agree with the aluminum removeable ramp. I walked the wood every day of summer in my childhood, but with rising sea levels and bigger “badder” storms predicted with climate change, we must go with a removeable piece. And, thanks for asking Mayor.


  2. It looks to me like the entire bridge needs to be replaced. The concrete that the bridge is supported by is being undermined by the currents, there is also a sizeable chunk that looks to have broken off. The bridge doesn’t even look level anymore. In addition how can an aluminum structure be cheaper than a temporary fix made of wood? It makes no sense. Pressure treated wood is not more expensive than aluminum. I work with welded aluminum in my job and fabrication is expensive. To fix the existing bridge, I cant believe there are no carpenters in the DPW that could not fix this in a few days.


    1. When they started charging a buck for a beach parking sticker I said that the genie had been let out of the bottle and soon it would be up to twenty bucks, I believe it’s up around there now but am certain it will go up and never down, if you can find a spot at all, which leaves the side streets and an efficient towing service.


  3. Is there a third alternative? Could they make a synthetic structure to append to the bridge out of faux wood? Something that looks like wood but is stronger and can be taken down in the event of a super storm. Good Harbor is our jewel, it was voted the best beach by Boston Magazine readers and I think we need to have the beach remain aesthetically pleasing.


  4. yankee ingenuity is already surfacing. Take that approach while considering the suggestions being made.
    Thanks for offering this opportunity to weigh in on the issue


  5. both options sound like knee-jerk reactions, there are numerous examples of footbridges that don’t look like boat ramps which would survive all but the worst storms. maybe the cost would be more than the city wants to spend in one year, but, we will be looking at this for years and need to take the time to do it right – even if that takes several years think twice, build once.


  6. Why not dip into the “free cash” and repair the bridge properly given that thousands of people utilize this access point to our precious beach — I would wager at least a few more cross that bridge year round than are using the $1.4M harbor walk, but that’s just a guess. Let’s do this correctly.


  7. The problem with the current design is not the strength (or lack thereof) of the wood. It is that a storm surge, combined with an unusually high tide, lifts the bridge off its moorings.

    So while it is interesting that the Mayor is asking her constituents whether they want to spend either $65,000 or $20,000 for a temporary fix, I’m more interested in the long-term solution.


    1. yes but in the mean time summer is right around the corner and people will freak if they cant access the beach via the footbridge in either form.

      To me a $20,000 temporary fix is better than a 70,000 temporary fix.


      1. Of course $20,000 is better than $65,000 for a temporary repair. The answer to this question is so obvious that one wonders why the mayor is asking it on a community blog.

        I want the mayor and the DPW just determine what is the best and most cost-effective temporary solution, then inform the public of their decision, and the timetable for implementing it?

        And I want the mayor and DPW to have done this already. The bridge washed out two and a half months ago (on February 8th). I want them to have a plan, and I want them to be implementing it already.

        Why instead is the mayor asking what we think?


    2. I didn’t read that the $20,000 aluminum middle section would be temporary. The parking lot and the bunker-style concession stand don’t ooze New England Charm. I’d go with the movable bridge. In the winter, access to the beach would be through the parking lot. A little welding creativity and ornamentation could make a utilitarian boat ramp look vintage art deco.


      1. That is not an option. The city is obligated to maintain a footbridge, as a condition of the beach club deeding the land in 1939.

        In addition, it would be an extremely unpopular move with the thousands of residents who access the beach via that bridge, most by walking.


      2. Great if you drive in from Rockport. If you want to walk the dog in the winter from E. Gloucester or there about the parking lot is a long and dangerous walk away. And by the time you get there turn around and walk back or you just may lose the light.




  9. Why is it going to cost $65,000 to fix the bridge in the first place….seems like quite a lot of money for a small temporary repair. Are they contracting this job out? Is the DPW not qualified to do carpentry and cement work…That could explain the state of our city streets and property. I would always vote for wood but not at that price. I would rather they spend $65,000 on repairing the sand dunes because if that doesn’t happen, we won’t have a need for a bridge….there will be no beach to visit.


  10. The Good Harbor Beach Footbridge is an historic structure that is more than a functional bridge. The appearance is important to maintain for a beautiful natural resource. Synthetic wood becomes very hot from the rays of the sun and would be hard to walk on barefoot! The appearance is important to consider since the Good Harbor Beach Footbridge is an historic structure that has been an attraction for artists to paint. It is iconic to our heritage. I agree that replacing the section with a more durable solution would be preferable to any temporary structure. I believe that there is a solution that is both asthetic pleasing and durable. Due to the urgent need to get the bridge back open for the upcoming season, I would support the aluminum option as temporary solution while we research a more adequate alternative.


    1. At this point in the year, weeks before the opening of beach season and months after the event that damaged the structure, a temporary solution is about all we can hope for so let’s get the bridge open to foot traffic… but I agree with Bob that a properly considered permanent solution has to be on the table. Doing things on the cheap and half-right has gotten us into more and costlier problems over time. Let’s do this correctly.

      And while I love GMG and dig it for what it is, I do hope this doesn’t become the primary mechanism by which our leadership seeks public input.


      1. Jason, why don’t you and Martin take your agenda against the mayor back to the swamp where it belongs. The leadership certainly can’t use your blog for input, because if you have one, nobody but Martin reads it.


  11. Wood and its fake counterparts are heavy. I doubt there can be a light and durable removable wood version anyway. What’s wrong with it looking like a boat ramp? How nautical can you get? I go with Joey…spend $20K now for this temporary version and figure out how to make something more permanent or better later. And I think it was nice of the Mayor to open it up for discussion.


  12. I agree with Joe, who works with welded aluminum, and Bob’s comments about the historic nature of the bridge. Are we comparing apples to oranges? I don’t see anywhere that mentions the aluminum/synthetic piece is “temporary.” Is it temporary??? And too, temporary ugly fixes/bandaids have a way of sticking around for a long time. If the aluminum/synthetic wood solution is meant to be permanent, that would be beyond ugly.

    If “temporary” is the solution for the summer, then a temporary wooden piece can be built for far less than $65,000.

    My vote is for a more comprably-priced temporary wooden bridge for the summer season and in the mean time (not at the end of the summer) get down to the business of designing a permanent structure that is better able to withstand super storms, so that at the end of the summer season, the plans are in place and construction can begin during the off-season.


  13. A four foot wide aluminum boat ramp??? I can’t wait to see the masses bouncing off each other with their umbrellas, surf boards, strollers, coolers, fishing poles, shade tents….
    Isn’t the Magnolia Pier repaired by volunteers EVERY year?


  14. Build back what was there. How long did that structure stand, decades? A rebuild will last another 100 years. And if ever we do need to rebuild, just put the price of parking up another $5.


    1. This is the third time the bridge has been destroyed in the last 10 years or so. For the long term, we need a design that can stand up to the incredible tides and storm surges that are a regular occurrence.


  15. I think at this point the aluminum bridge is the way to go for this summer only. I want to see a permanent solution that is more attractive and more in keeping with the general serenity and aesthetic of Good Harbor Beach, than an aluminum would be. I hope the Mayor asks for our input again before deciding on a Final Solution.


  16. I received this response from Mayor Kirk upon informing her of my concerns:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. In all likelihood we will put together a formal Building Committee that will oversee design and construction of a permanent solution. Meanwhile, we will proceed with a cost-effective short-term solution. We had to go through a Conservation Commission review which has delayed our progress but the result of which was to require the city to proceed in new directions so we are not always in this predicament.
    Mayor Kirk

    I’m glad that there appears to be a plan to consider a long-term solution that is in keeping with the aesthetics of the area as well as a need to (as much as is possible) consider the permanence of whatever the replacement ends up being.


  17. I agree with Joey… I can’t believe the wooden “temporary” repair is $65,000 (over 3x the aluminum “permanent” repair)… in fact… if the city is willing to pay that, I’ll do the job for $50,000.


  18. Build it to last and as a temporary fix without wasting our $$, it can be both if it is made from light weight but very durable materials used here at J&L. It can be lifted out when the time comes to rebuild the supporting structure, this equals zero loss for the community and a long lasting walkway. The appearance is very important but so is the longevity and ability to not waste money on something temporary. The products available today are light weight and strong, offering many dimensional sizes that are visual comparable to wood, add epoxy paint and one would be hard pressed to tell the difference as approached.

    Regardless of who builds the structure it should be made to be reused and or added to as needed and not to be discarded, spreading out the cost over several years makes a lot of sense to me, If a major storm is coming both ends could be made to roll up onto the center portion or out of harms way until the surge passes.

    Go to Youtube and watch the videos, be educated, if the Mayor is asking for your input know what is available and lets get it done right and for the best possible price. Below is the link to the composite decking
    For a Premium Decking System made with a Superior Products use J&L Welding Marine Products * Aluminum or Composite decks, Docks, walkways and Floats
    Environmentally friendly, Maintenance free, Slip Resistance.

    Ramps, Gangways, Bridge, Docks, Floats and Decks

    J&L Welding and Machine Inc.
    ” I am Jeff S Amero and I approve this shameless message “


    1. I’m in favor of the aluminum/composite fix as presented by Jeff. This can be built as a.permanent and aestheticly pleasing solution. We have new technology and building materials and I know that Jeff stays on top of this. We owe it to ourselves to listen to an expert. No…I do not work for Jeff….I just respect his knowledge and love for our city.


  19. Is a rope bridge out of the question? I think a rope bridge with wooden planks across it would be far more enjoyable for all involved. It would be cost-effective, you could buy the rope at the Building Center, and I bet the High School carpentry class could build that baby for free.

    Some out there may say, “Oh we can’t lose our beautiful bridge!” but we have overcome resistance before. We’ve built a $10 trillion walkway behind Latitude 43, we’ve turned a wasted plot of land into a wasted plot of land where people can park cars and throw out their empty Dunkin Donuts cups, we’ve even built three gigantic wind mills and may be getting a Holiday Inn any day now.

    To quote Charles Olson, “Show me a person who doesn’t love a good rope bridge, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t like to have a good time.”

    (On second thought, I vote metal boat ramp. At this point, it’s the only solution that makes sense.)


    1. A rope bridge would be inappropriate, as people bring numerous wheeled devices.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 1:12 PM, GoodMorningGloucester wrote:

      > ** > Ryan Pinkham commented: “Is a rope bridge out of the question? I think > a rope bridge with wooden planks across it would be far more enjoyable for > all involved. It would be cost-effective, you could buy the rope at the > Building Center, and I bet the High School carpentry class cou” >


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