The $2 million quarter-mile project will extend the popular pathway from its current end at Cedar Street to Lowell Street, the site of a future MBTA Green Line transit station.
The City of Somerville is about to grow one step closer to its vision of a bicycle and pedestrian path that connects the city to Boston. For the first time in 18 years, a new section of the Community Path in Somerville is under construction.
This week, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will begin work on the extension of the path from Cedar Street to Lowell Street. To celebrate, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Ward 5 Alderman Courtney O’Keefe invite community members to a ceremonial groundbreaking on Monday, May 13, at 6 p.m., with MassDOT and the Friends of the Community Path. The event will be held at the intersection of Cedar Street and the Community Path entrance.
The almost $2 million project dovetails with the Green Line Extension and will eventually provide access to the new Lowell Street Green Line station, further strengthening the city’s commitment to making it easier and safer for residents to bike, walk or ride public transit to work, or to simply enjoy a healthy stroll or ride through Somerville.
“Somerville is already one of the most walkable and bikable communities in the nation, but we want to be number one,” Mayor Curtatone said. “The extension of the Community Path brings us closer to that goal and supports the multiple modes of transportation that are fueling our urban renaissance. We are using untapped resources in our community and transforming them into conduits for recreation, commuters and consumers. It’s better for our economy, our health and our environment.”
The city’s 2012 snapshot bicycle and pedestrian counts show impressive growth in bicycling activity, with 46 percent more in Somerville compared to 2011 and 56 percent more than 2010. According to 2010 “journey to work” data, approximately 13 percent of Somerville commuters choose biking or walking for their commutes.
The Community Path extension will run adjacent to the Maxwell’s Green development and provide access to both sides of the Lowell Street Bridge and to Warwick Street. Construction is scheduled for completion in late fall 2013.
“The Community Path is wildly popular and now it will be even easier for Ward 5 residents to reap its benefits,” Alderman O’Keefe said. “Likewise, once it’s built, I want to invite all Community Path users to travel to our end of the path and up Cedar St. to check out all the great businesses we have here in Ward 5 in Magoun Square, Ball Square and on Highland Ave. The path offers such a great opportunity not just to get outside, but to better connect the residents of our city.”
“This innovative project is directly in line with the Patrick-Murray Administration’s way of rethinking how people move around,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “Somerville’s Community Path exemplifies the kind of viable, healthy alternative to driving we are focused on, and we are proud to partner with the city and supporters.”
The Cedar-to-Lowell extension of the Community Path represents Phase II of an overall vision that began with connecting the Community Path to the Linear Path across Davis Square. Phase III will extend the path to Boston, while linking to the Minuteman Bikeway that runs from Cambridge to Bedford and also serving as the final link the 104-mile long Massachusetts Central Rail Trail from Boston to Northampton. The path would also connect with the Mystic Valley Active and Safe Transportation Network that will run along the Mystic and Malden Rivers and the Alewife Brook.
Funding for the Cedar-to-Lowell extension is provided by the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) match with funds from MassDOT, and an over $1M earmark secured by Congressman Capuano. Early donations from the Friends of the Community Path and their continued advocacy have been instrumental to the project breaking ground. The Maxwell’s Green development also contributed to the project by removing existing railroad tracks between Cedar Street and Lowell Street and regrading the area.