State officials announced today funding has been secured to build a $39 million, two-mile long community path for pedestrians and bicyclists to connect four stations between Somerville and Boston that will be constructed as part of the Green Line Extension project.
The path, an extension of an existing network of paths, will connect the Lowell Street, Gilman Square, Washington Street and relocated Lechmere stations providing a continuous route between Bedford and Boston for cyclists and on-foot travelers.
It will feature benches, landscaping, trash receptacles, lighting, fencing, wireless alarm call boxes, and removable and permanent bollards. The path will also comply fully with ADA accessibility guidelines.
The path is scheduled to open in phases and is scheduled to be completed with the opening of the Green Line Extension in 2020. The
Half of the path’s cost will be paid for with federal funds, officials announced.
Officials said the path will provide a key alternative connection that will benefit the environment and the local economy.
“This project is about much more than biking and walking — it’s about building a community and a region that is equitable, connected and vibrant,” Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said in a statement.
“When we create connections between neighborhoods and communities, economic health follows as our squares thrive, local businesses get busier and a resilient, self-sufficient economic base is built for our city and the region,” he added. “That is the connectivity and vibrancy that will also help us bring back our historic neighborhoods in Somerville like Brickbottom and Inner Belt.”
An existing community path runs from Alewife in Cambridge to Cedar Street in Somerville, the eastern mile of which was completed in 2011. Last year, the state transportation department began work to extend it about one-third of a mile further to Lowell Street — a phase officials expect will open this fall.
Once the portion between Lowell Street and Lechmere is complete, there will be a stretch of paths, including the Minuteman Bikeway and the Charles River paths, creating a 48-mile continuous path network across 11 cities and towns.
“As someone who supported the then-controversial creation of the original stretch of the community path in the 1980s, I applaud Somerville’s embrace of the full extension of the path, and the Patrick administration’s support of this project,” state representative Denise Provost, of Somerville, said in a statement.
Congressman Michael Capuano said building the path extension as part of the Green Line Extension project is important.
“I have been strongly advocating for inclusion of the community path as an integral part of the GLX, fearing that separate consideration would add years of delay in construction,” he said in a statement. “This is great news for both pedestrians and bicyclists.”
The transportation department, the MBTA and Somerville city officials are working together to plan, design and build the two additional miles of path.
Somerville is acquiring land and easements where necessary to build the path, parts of which will also serve as emergency egress routes from the Green Line Extension stations.
The city will be responsible for operating and maintaining the path.Matt Rocheleau can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.